Friday, 25 January 2013

Tuesday # 8: "Freude erläbe" (experiencing joy) / mandalas / God in drag

This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets. Thanks again for hosting, RAnn!

St Hildegard mandala

Our story for this week was “Die Zauberkugel” by Arcadio Lobato. Manolo finds a magic crystal ball (Zauberkugel) that grants whoever holds it one wish. Before he can make his wish, the townspeople get a hold of the ball and wish for jewels, castles, gold, etc. Before long, the once-happy, peaceful town is rife with envy and ill will. Eventually, the townspeople lament about how they wish things could be as they were before, when they lived simple but happy lives. Manolo uses his wish to bring things back to how they were before.

I have a somewhat (who am I kidding, very) obsessive personality. The previous week, I had spent a lot of time obsessing about how rowdy the children are in my class, to the point that I was dreading our Tuesday afternoon catechism session. In any case, I can attest that the Law of Attraction works. True to form, it turned out to be a pretty stressful afternoon.  I won’t bother recounting the many things that didn’t go well, as I’m taking to heart Joel Osteen’s advice this week to “Remember the Good”. I will choose to remember the following: how the children are waiting for me at the door of the school house, smiling and happy, and carry my bags up for me; how they enjoy our few minutes of yoga; how on-the-ball Cedric was in recounting the moral of our story; how they all whooped for joy when I told them we were making a crystal ball for them to take home (plexiglass ornament balls, glitter, glue, sequins); how glitter makes everything better; and finally, even if I had my hands full trying to abort the game of tag started by my three naughty boys, how happy I was to see the seven other children diligently coloring their worksheets. Oh, and how I love my new Tibetan singing bowl! I am thinking of starting a collection.

Last Sunday, I took Maeve and Olive to Sunday school (on offer roughly once a month in our parish, normal for Switzerland). I peeked into the room. Lo and behold were 30 children, seated at a very long table, coloring quietly. There were two teachers, one at the door, welcoming arriving children, and another standing by the table. How on earth could they pull off 30 kids contemplatively coloring, with no one shouting, swinging from the rafters, or playing tag? What’s their secret? When I pick the girls up after Mass, they each have a chocolate muffin, a coloring sheet about the Wedding at Canaan, and a mandala. I am guessing that, whatever the secret is, it’s not the chocolate muffin. Both girls want to continue working on the mandalas at home. I decide that, for the catechism class next week, I’ll bring mandalas in for the kids to color while we wait for everyone to arrive. When I start searching about them online, I am surprised to find that, aside from being part of various religious traditions, mandalas are also used as meditation and therapy tools for adults as well as children. (Start from the inside going out to tap hidden energies, and from the outside going in for meditation and centering.) I jump the gun too quickly, and buy three mandala books on amazon ("Christian Mandalas" by Klaus Holitzka, "Mandalas from Around the World" by Marion Küstenmacher, and "Mandalas Stained Glass Coloring Book" by Marty Noble). Later, I find that there are hundreds of beautiful designs online for free and that St Hildegard of Bingen illustrated her visions in mandala form. (I have an amazon habit that is bordering on addiction. During a stressful week, I can find myself buying 3 to 5 books, seeking solace from second hand sellers on the amazon marketplace. In any case, following my premature amazon mandala purchases, I resolve not to buy any more books until Marian Keyes’ latest book, “The Mystery of Mercy Close” comes out in paperback in April. Don’t know if I can make it till then. It is a long time till April. My fingers were twitching while reading kkollwitz’s recent book review.) I am looking for a complex, intricate mandala design with Mateo, the most boisterous of my lot, in mind. With my Tibetan singing bowl, yoga, and mandalas, he is going to be a calm, grounded, peaceful kid, coloring meditatively at the table by the time Tuesday # 20 rolls around. Just kidding. Of course, ultimately, I accept that Mateo is "an expression of God" just the way he is. (Thank you, Ram Dass.) After all, as the 14th century Persian poet-mystic Hafiz puts it, we’re all "God in drag". (Thank you, Hafiz, for writing that phrase centuries ago. Thank you, Chuck Lorre, for using the quote in Vanity Card # 400 on a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory and bringing it to my attention.) 


  1. Hildegard was quite the pistol. Sometimes I sing her stuff at adoration. My favorite Hildy CD:

    Bought it based purely on the title as an LP about 30 years ago. Had no idea who Hildy was.

    1. I didn't realize until your comment that "like a feather on the breath of God" was from her! I recall coming across that phrase during a yoga class some years ago, but didn't know where it came from. Thanks!

    2. My family is watching A Beautiful Mind in the next room...just heard a song in it from the Feather album!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!