“Impermanence”, 2020. Pebble mandala on riverbank

This pebble mandala is located on the rocky bank of the river which borders the family land on which I find refuge, spiritual restoration, and inspiration.

In part, the value of the time I spend in this retreat is the impermanence of nature–the shifts and transformations of the land and all that draws sustenance from it.

The land is constant–but ever changing. During the spring and summer, the woods and grasslands are ablaze with a constantly changing array of wildflowers and grasses; abuzz with bees, butterflies and dragonflies (and mosquitoes); a-prowl with deer, bobcats, bear, and the odd cougar.

The river itself is ancient, carved deep into the rock and soil of the hills. Its source is a high mountain pass, then it meanders down and down, out onto the prairies, carrying precious water to farms and towns on its journey. The gentle summer ripples belie the power of the torrents of ice-cold meltwater that every so often pour down from the mountains, and roar out to flood the prairies. The most recent flood carved huge rocks from the cliffs and left them midstream, tore mature trees up from their roots, rearranged the shore line, and devastated nearby towns.

The mandala is “impermanent” both by nature and by location. The pebbles are arranged on the surface of the shingle beach, and are easily moved–by the hoofs of deer or cattle coming to the river to drink, by rain or by rising water. It is also open to boots of passing fishermen, the eager fingers of children, or the creative impulses of those who come to sit by the waters.

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