Mandalas in the Wind

My knitting has slowed to a snail’s pace. We’ve been here a month and a half, and I’ve got one measly sock to show for it.


This is not surprising. When would I knit? We don’t commute anymore. My spare time is spent writing sermons or planning things. My evenings are spent working, or drinking tea and talking to my husband. When I play with my children, either both hands are full, or if they are not, I jump at the chance for 1:1 time. My life is full of all the wonderful, exhausting things that are exactly what I want to be doing and should be doing, and I have very little energy left for multi-tasking. This is simultaneously delightful and annoying.


(Of course, I do waste myriad free moments scrolling facebook. I would like to retrain myself to turn those scrolls into stitches. Good luck with that, me.)

Picking crowberries by the bay. Another attempt at a hike interrupted by toddler-sized explorations.

I’m still writing, but mostly in my journal. I still haven’t found my blogging voice, and that bothers me. I’m starting to value my words, having suddenly realized that I have things worth saying, and the ability to say them halfway-decently. But my first reaction is insecurity – to hold them close to my chest. Suddenly they’re my children, and I’m not sure if they’ll stand up if I plaster them up on the internet, alone and unsupported. I have no framework for my thoughts yet.

I’ve also been pondering privacy, embracing impermanence, and how fleeting moments are. There’s a reason we take pictures of everything now, and why we want to post every last thought on the internet. At least, there’s a reason I do. It’s because I want it to last. I want it to mean something. If a thing just happens, if my daughter just smiles her big smile at me, and there’s no one but me to watch it, and I know I’ll forget it – then does it mean anything? So I pull out my phone to try to catch it, and in making her smile for the camera, I make sure it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the same thing with the food I cook, or the insights I have, or the books I read – I want to record it all, keep it in a bottle, so I can have more of it later. Forgetting that if I do that, there will be later moments I will be missing by trying to cling to the old ones.


On FB, I just saw a picture of a beautiful flower mandala that an artist friend made. But when I think of a mandala, like the ones made of sand that Buddhist monks somewhere make (sorry; I forget where), or that are made in the path of a religious procession… isn’t the point of them that they will blow away? Doesn’t it sort of… defeat the purpose to take a picture of them? In making them last forever, in the form of a picture, isn’t that betraying the medium?

I love McKenzie’s mandalas, and I want her to keep taking pictures of them, so maybe not. But I guess I mean that as a metaphor for my life right now, because the moments that mean the most to me are the ones that blow away. When I play with my baby, let her pull my hair, wet-kiss my cheek, and giggle madly when I screech because she got my nose in her mouth. When I color a page in my toddler’s coloring book, just because she told me to, or read her the same book over and over again until she decides she’d rather play by herself. Those are the moments, too rare, that I think to myself, yes, that was right. I am being poured out, but it’s filling someone else up. That’s what I’m for, really.


So that’s the parenting part. But I don’t feel the same way about my words. I journal a little bit, every day that I can, just skimming the cream off the surface of my thoughts. But it feels unsure. I don’t know what’s being built yet, though I feel as if something should be. And because it’s insecure, it’s far too serious! You’ll know I’ve worked that out when I stop using up words calling attention to the fact that I don’t know what to say. All very silly. Maybe I should just write an essay about butts.

So I’ve been baking instead. Baking for saint days, cooking for holidays, baking for the Sabbath, and not walking enough to make up for it. The definition of impermanent work, but good and worthwhile, if I don’t let it distract me from the real mandala-making.

Happy half-birthday, Martha!

2 thoughts on “Mandalas in the Wind

  1. Rebecca, this post really encouraged me. I spend a lot of time playing with Ethan – superheroes, Scooby Gang, little animals, golf balls – all mixed together on the couch. We have some wildly imaginative adventures. But I always feel like I should be doing something more. Teaching him more, although he knows so much. Thank you for helping me realize how valuable these times are – for me and for him.


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