On Saturday, March 19, 2022, Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College hosted its first in-person program since the campus of Marywood closed to the public two years ago with a prayer practices program on mandalas. This Lenten program of contemplative coloring through the lens of mandalas brought awareness to different forms of prayer while coloring a variety of sacred geometric patterns.

The simple activity of coloring mandalas can put various elements of our body to work, such as sight, touch, and muscles used to direct the movement of each stroke as well as mental elements, including creativity, dedication, and the choice of colors. For this reason, mandalas are considered a great tool to facilitate psychological balance and relaxation.

I stored up layer upon layer of color
dark and light
pain and joy
suffering and healing
and now as I return to my mandalas over time
to sit and listen
they speak wisdom and nourish me.
~ Ginger Rohwer

Ginger Rohwer gently guided participants to center on God. She offered three prayer practices: Centering Prayer, Ignatian Examen, and Self-Compassioning Prayer prompts as participants spent time praying and coloring in silence along with answering reflective questions to help them integrate the coloring experience.

“The real question of the Lenten season is: `How will I find ways to return to God with all my heart?' This begs an even deeper question: `Where in my life have I gotten away from God and what are the disciplines that will enable me to find my way back?' Ginger shared how contemplative praying with mandalas helped to transform and heal parts of herself.

Participants were encouraged to be patient with themselves and others as they directed their hands and hearts to come together in hospitality to the Holy Spirit who dwells among us.

One participant shared how through coloring she became aware that the colors she chose were those of Ukraine and her prayerful intentions shifted to a posture of intercession for the suffering families directly affected by the war and fall out of collective unrest. Another shared her color choices represented God speaking into her life in a present and hopeful way - using the color green as a color of renewal and yellow depicting God’s hope for the world.

The morning offered all participants a sacred space to center themselves in God and hear God’s whisper amidst the noise of the world around us. Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian stamina. Rather, the season of Lent can be a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and how we can use this time to receive transformative healing for our lives and the life of our world to come.

Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College is a ministry of Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.