The Power of Place
The staff at The Mandala Center (TMC) has the great privilege of serving groups and individuals as they come and go. One thing we often notice is the visible signs of stress upon arrival, and the softer more relaxed faces smiling at us upon departure! Another thing we notice is how the Center itself seems to “take on” each group’s dynamic –preparing to nurture whatever needs nurturing.
Since my arrival at TMC I have thought a lot about the “power of place.” TMC occupies land that seems to be grounding and yet offers this great expansive sky and the equal expanse of thought, possibility, and vision. Some say the “power of place” arises out of the land itself but there is also significance in what the guests themselves bring to the Center. There is a union that takes place – a dance. The visitors to TMC bring their own intentions and inspiration and become part of an ongoing community here through the deep work and hope that they generate.
Recently TMC held the workshop titled Labyrinth: Pilgrimage of Prayer. (To learn more about labyrinths go to www.labyrinthsociety.com) On this particular weekend guests arrived with spirits high and a palpable anticipation. This group of individuals began to bond through their experiences in the retreat and by Saturday night I could see how “the place” and the “group intention” were merging. On Saturday night I was reminded of how the dance is danced.
An indoor canvas labyrinth was placed in the sanctuary and candles were then lit throughout the room. Outside the moon was full. I was there to assist the group with the tasks of adjusting lights and watching candles – and it ended up being a gift for my own soul.
Lisa Moriarty, the workshop leader, explained that the group was going to engage in a meditative movement, a body prayer, or liturgical dance within the labyrinth. To assist them Lisa played a CD called The Prayer Cycle, which contained beautiful music – prayers for healing- sung in many languages by various musical artists. Participants could pick up scarves and create movement with color. I sat off to the side but it was not long after the music started that I was fully aware of the “shift” taking place in the group as well as the space we occupied.
The music was haunting and deep and seemed to come from a holy place. The silence of the participants elevated the sounds. The low lights and candles gave a sense of warmth and comfort and sparked memories of a time when firelight was central to our survival. Bodies slowly began to move and express their willingness to trust and be vulnerable. A sense of reverence filled the space. Time was standing still, senses were alert, intentions and prayers were being danced and embodied. The living Mandala was awakened: the “power of place” and human intention united. Tears edged my eyes as I watched, and love was awakened.
I was pleased to find this quote by a Presbyterian Theologian, Daniel Deffenbaugh in an article by Jay Walljasper titled, “Finding my Soul through the Power of Place.” Deffenbaugh said, “God is present in all things. The eternal breaks into ordinary time and space.” Walljasper continues by saying, “…this helps us to discover what is sacred everywhere else in the world.”
While TMC holds a special “energy” ripe for contemplation and expansive thought, the people who journey here bring an unmistakable ingredient – a willingness to explore, to be vulnerable, to trust in something greater than themselves, to have hope, and to have a love and curiosity that allows Spirit to move around them and within them. It is my deepest hope that the guests who visit The Mandala Center find the sacred within themselves and “discover what is sacred everywhere else in the world.”
Lori Coon, Executive Director