Since the beginning of 2020, many of us have felt the symbiotic balance between humanity and Earth as more fragile than ever. The moment a highly contagious virus took the hurried pace of our lives and slowed it down, we started to pay attention. When our nomadic ancestors migrated with the seasons, animals, and weather patterns, they discerned messages from the land. The COVID-19 virus is a message from Mother Nature. Our ability to harness this innate sense to notice the subtleties the earth is communicating allows us to live in synchronicity.
One way we can ground ourselves to Earth and feel a sense of admiration is by creating an altar. Everything we witness in nature has remarkable texture, color, shape and nuance. By transporting ourselves to a place of childlike wonder and carving out time to explore, we will find treasures. Below are the steps to create a living work of art.
Step 1: Roam with curiosity. Go to the park or find a space in your backyard where you can slow down and pay attention to nature’s palette. A rose bush might have dropped some petals on the ground or a single blade of grass might hold intrigue. As you roam, equipped with a basket or bag, select gifts from Earth with care. The idea is to collect from the ground, but there might be isolated times when cutting a leaf will complement the items you procured from droppings.
Step 2: Create a canvas. Find an open space where there is room to clear the ground of debris using a brush or your hand. Lay out all your findings and separate them in groupings.
Step 3: Create your work of art. Next, display your treasures in an artistic arrangement. This is similar to the act of creating a mandala which is an impermanent sacred space upheld in the Buddhist culture. Remember, “nature never hurries and everything gets accomplished.” So, take your time during this meditation in motion.
Step 4: Step back, share and say goodbye. Honor what you have created; take a picture to share with another and then walk away knowing that at any moment a wind or the stirrings of the world will wipe away the beauty you created. This experience cultivates the quality to embrace change.
During social isolation, a fellow co-worker and I have shared our creations weekly. This experience brought beauty to my day and joined us together. John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
This practice of designing Earth altars creates the conditions for communion with nature.