Ash Wednesday is arriving early this year. I can hardly believe that it begins in a few days! Whether you observe Lent or not, setting aside quiet time for reflection is good for the body, mind, and soul.
I’ve been facilitating an online retreat these last two weeks and participants have commented again and again how nourishing it is to make time for oneself. Lent is an invitation to make such time for yourself. Many people look to “give something up” during this time: chocolate, coffee, time on social media. While these are all well intended, often when the challenge is up, old habits are renewed rather than these new habits sticking. I like to approach this season by focusing on a healthy practice that is a challenge for me and one that I hope will become a lifelong practice.
This year, I am inspired by my retreat sisters who have embraced my invitation to make time each day for quiet reflection. Creating and coloring mandalas is a wonderful way to slow down and tune in.
I’ve recently been invited to design artwork to go with a series called “Heart to Heart.” It’s written by my dear friend Mae Edwards, who answers questions young adults have about their faith. In addition to designing a mandala for each issue of Parable Magazine, I’ve teamed up with some ladies who I work with at the Diocese of Manchester to design some activity guides that incorporate coloring mandalas and journal keeping with a focus on a prayerful Catholic tradition.
The first mandala that I designed was inspired by the monstrance (an ornate case used to hold and honor the Eucharist (For us Protestants we refer to the Eucharist as the Host). The monstrance has a radial balance and usually made of gold with rays reminiscent of the sun. The monstrance from our local cathedral has an interesting story where one of the bishop’s invited parishioners to donate jewelry for having a chalice made. With the leftover gold and diamonds a monstrance was designed. In the activity guide, I designed a coloring page based on my artwork and included an audio file of a priest telling the story of this monstrance.
The January/February issue features the passage, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” Psalm 46:12. Mae answers the question, “How do I know that God is listening?” Is it no wonder with our loud and busy lives, constantly being pinged and messaged, that we can’t hear our own thoughts let alone have a relationship with God.
In the activity guide, I tie in the practice of praying the Rosary with coloring. I worked into the design “beads” to mark the increments of ten found in the rosary and colored the example in rose blue colors, colors associated with Mary. The guide includes background about praying the Rosary developed by my colleague Mary Ellen Mahon and an audio recording of our bishop reciting the Rosary.
You are invited to download these free prayerful activity guides that include mandalas to color. Go to: www.catholicnh.org/download
I’m currently working on the artwork and guide for the March/April issue which incorporates the practice of walking prayerfully in a labyrinth.
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