These Autumn weeks ask us to bring our thoughts to death and the ending of a lifetime.
Many of us gather together to celebrate those we love who are now across the Threshold of Death, no longer sharing earthly space and time with us, but still living in our hearts. We may light candles and tell stories. Memories and grief come alive as we recollect precious relationships.
I want to offer a design for remembering the lifetime of another inspired by the Mandala of Meaning and Purpose. It can be as simple or as deep as you want. Just begin and see how it goes. It is a devotion and cannot be measured or judged.
Begin with drawing the Mandala on a large sheet of paper…use a different color for each quadrant if you want.
Choose the soul you will remember. Put their name or a photo of them in the center of the mandala.
So many Memories
Now begin to remember. In a journal or on a piece of paper write your memories of their lifetime that you are attached to and have feelings about. You might want to create a timeline (do you have photos of them at different ages?) Your memories/feelings may be mixed as relationships are always complex and individuals, each of us have strengths and weakness, we nurture and harm, we shine with light and hide in shadows. How did they suffer? Did they know joy? What were the turning points in their life? What did they resist? What did they embrace? What did they leave undone? What did they regret? What did they laugh at? What were their passions, addictions, desires? What were their traumas, demons, doubts? What were their favorites…books, movies, places, foods, moments? What were the phrases they used often? Can you quote them? What lessons did they learn? What lessons did they teach?
And whatever else you think of.
The Mandala of Remembering
Now take some small stickies/post-its (four different colors…amazon has lots of options) and work with the mandala. Sort your memories into the four areas of selfhood…contributions, relationships, well-being, and inner development. Write memories on the stickies and stick them onto the quadrant where they belong. What contributions did they make? What was their social life of relationships? How did they maintain well-being in life (this includes health, home, finances), Finally, how did they experience their inner life and development of selfhood?
You can also add images to the mandala that you think of as you do this remembering. I love thinking of animals and plants that make me think of them. It is okay to have fun with your memories.
A Reverent Awakening
This reverent exercise will fill your heart with a deep understanding of the meaning and purpose of their lifetime. It will free your memories from sentimentality. You will be celebrating their karma and destiny. The soul you are remembering will know they were seen and felt beyond the dramas of existence. You see the expression of their essence and the unfolding of their potential.
You can roll up the mandala and put it in a safe place or you can hang it on a wall. It is a document of living memory. You can add to it each year. Or visit it on their birthday or deathday.