I was visiting my home town of Savannah, Georgia, this weekend when the Tibetan monks of the Drepung Loseling monastery completed their mandala.
My mother, Jane Espy, who was most recently named “Volunteer of the Year” at the Telfair Art Museum, told me about the mandala, so naturally we had to go to visit after church.
The mandala had just been completed and a large crowd had gathered. Four monks chanted. A museum official kept pestering me about the photographs I was taking. He said I was leaning too close to the roped-off area and was afraid I would trip and fall onto the mandala.
“Trust me,” I said to the museum attendant, “I have taught yoga for 17 years. I can stand on one leg for long periods of time. Balance is not my problem.”
The museum official pointed to the very tall black suede high heels I was wearing. He wasn’t so convinced about my balance.
But there were plenty of other people milling about for him to hassle, all of whom were equally excited about the completion of the mandala, which the monks had begun the previous Monday. The Tibetans had sat there every day for a week, creating something out of nothing but colored sand.
So often in life, people ask themselves, “What is the point?”
The implication is that you have to making a lot of money, becoming famous, discovering the cure for cancer, etc. etc. etc. or there is no point in doing anything.
I remember when I first started making jewelry.
It was the first really expensive hobby I had ever had.
I would go to bead shows and easily spend $300. I stop myself at that limit because it would be so easy to go on and drop even more dollars on gemstones, wire, findings and other beading accessories. I have an entire cabinet devoted to my beading supplies that is stuffed full of boxes, bags and other delights.
I asked for guidance about whether or not it was in my highest best interests to sell my jewelry.
I got “NO.”
The importance of this fact was not lost on me.
For sure, from time to time, someone will ask me to make something special, and I give the profits either to the Atlanta Pet Rescue or the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
But for me, primarily the art of beading is a meditation during which time I connect with my own creativity.
This for me is worth the total price of admission – to be channeling such a high vibration through my hands.
When I resumed knitting in recent years, I was somewhat hoping that I might end up spending less money on yarn and similar accessories.
I was wrong!
Although I had been able to limit my bead supplied to a large cupboard in my living room, I was originally hoping my yarn would fit into another cabinet.
Well that cabinet got filled, then a drawer got filled and soon enough my closet was so overflowing that I had to do a cleanup and take my stash (that’s the word we knitters use for our leftover yarn) over to the Goodwill. Boxes, bags, rolls – my stash went on and on. Even I recognized that I needed to get a grip! I gave away yarns in every color so I could reclaim my closet and be able to walk into it again.
The exquisite shawls that I knit with as many as seven different yarns together cost as much or more than an original gemstone necklaces that I make and give away without my friends or family barely recognizing what all go into them – not just the materials but also the labor.
And still, I would rather use my knitting and my beading as a healing meditation to connect deeply to my soul and to the depths of my own creativity.
When I knit and bead, I think of the person I am making something for. Whether it’s a necklace that I spend several hours making or a shawl that takes months, I put all my love and prayers into making that precious object.
And then I give it away.
So I could totally relate to the monks, who spend a week making a mandala, only to blow away their finery. And, in the case of the Savannah mandala, eventually to dunk it into the river.
Sometimes we forget the importance of feeding our soul.
When we reach the crest of creativity – the moment the book is actually finished, the scarf is tied off, the clasp is completed, the mandala is sitting on the table for all to admire – we have reached a pinnacle of human achievement.
We feel the joy, say a prayer of thanksgiving and then move on. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, work – the mundane, less ecstatic moments of our lives that need the crest of creativity to make the balance tolerable.
We may end up spending a few hundred dollars and giving away our hours, weeks and months. But in the process, we have raised our own vibration to the level of our own creativity.
Few moments in life are as healing as this – pure triumph.