For someone who professes to be creative, I sure don’t do a lot of creative things. At least, not regularly… not as frequently as I would like. Creativity takes energy, and I’m convinced that it won’t be until a year of steady full time work that I will feel like I have a grasp on energy again (but maybe that’s just a story I tell myself).
Back in November of 2010–before I had this great full time job that takes up so much of my time and energy–a dear friend of mine was ordained to the diaconate of the Independent Catholic Church. It was my honor to make her vestments that she and her bishop wore at her ordination, and an absolute joy to see them both wearing these vestments during the ordination ceremony. The ceremony was in Virginia, and it was with a full heart that I loaded up my car early one cold November morning with the vestments I’d made and drove nine hours to her church.
My friend was still in the throes and battles of academia, so after the ceremony concluded she and her partner had to high-tail it back to Tennessee in time for finals. On a delightful whim, I decided not to drive South to follow my steps back home the way I came, but to drive West with them. As a result, I had the chance to stay with them longer, and to break up my trip into two days (instead of trying to make it home in the dark of night).
Second only to spending more time with my friends, the highlight of this excursion was stumbling across the Mystical Mandala Coloring Book.
Mandalas are traditional forms of sacred art and prayer found in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and, somewhat like the icons found in Eastern Orthodox traditions, the creation of mandalas is a sacred activity. They usually are circular designs, and in many traditions are made of sand.
Yet, here was a coloring book (a most ordinary thing) that is devoted entirely to these wonderful acts of art-making-prayer. What a strange coloring book to find!
It has provided me with hours of delight. My older sister and I sat over this coloring book last Christmas and each worked on her own mandala–my father stumbled upon us, and even though we were 26 and 29 (and had long-since given up the nasty habit of back-biting and bickering that we had as children), he couldn’t help but comment how peaceful we were. Sitting. Just coloring. No big deal. Since then, I’ve turned back to my Mystical Mandala Coloring Book for quietude and inspiration.
Lately, I painted our dining room walls and wanted to put up artwork to fill the now-yellow stretches between windows and corners. Where else should I turn but this delightful coloring book? I finished one mandala, cut it out, and pasted it over rich red fabric. One frame: done.
Now that fall is settling in (or, at the very least, peaking in), I am returning to this coloring book as a way to center myself after a long day. Just to sit. And color. And many times, I think back to my dear friend who was ordained to the diaconate last November–the one whose ordination turned my steps toward the path to this strange, delightful coloring book. I think of her in her ordinary life, still just as ordained to ministry as she is when she serves in a church service.
In many ways, this coloring book is a reminder to me that it is in the midst of the very ordinary things of life that we see the sacred coming into being. That we can even pick up a marker, color in a few lines, and sit quietly with a work of art as it comes into existence–that is nothing short of miraculous.
It may not be creative in that you are not crafting something from nothing, but the creativity of choosing colors, dabbing markers onto paper, and glorifying at the simple beauty that you had a hand in creating… well, that’s enough for me.