A Mandala for the Blossoming of Cherry Trees

The plants know that is is spring. I woke to 36 degrees outdoors but the fruit trees are blossoming and the bird have been busy for months. The red breasted sapsucker stakes out his space, attracts a mate and they build thier nest, the business of the season.

Our culture would have us associate sex with the young and the beautiful. I associate sex with the oldest rhythms of life. Even the ancient cherry tree blooms. My friend Linda meditates under the tree’s massive branches. The gentle bees hum and keep her company. Today is her 60th birthday and with the cherry tree, she blooms.

A Mandala For New Beginnings

The way I work, I create one step at a time. I only move to an area when I know what to do. This mandala emerged the evening after an especially rich session with my therapist. When I started I assumed that something would develop for the middle portion. It eventually became apparent that the void was intended for the center. This time of my life is a new beginning as I free myself from old emotions that I no longer need. What is coming next is far from clear, no inkling yet but I am reasonably sure something will show up.

Ghosts at the Night Picnic, Coldwater Creek, Glen Ivy 1981

Ghosts at the Night Picnic, Coldwater Creek, Glen Ivy 1981

March 1, 2009
I am trying to balance my chair on the uneven ground under the big oaks. I can hear Coldwater Creek tumbling down the little falls where I know two bottles of champagne are in a weighted bag at the bottom of the catch pond. The stem of my crystal wine glass is cold between my fingers on this hot summer night in 1981, and the late-harvest Zinfandel is the color of a pirate’s trove of rubies and garnets in the firelight.

Greg Botz’s kind and handsome face is ruddy with heat as he tends the steaks on the fire. He’s dressed in a tuxedo even though we’re a rough mile away from the inn where we all live.

I’m wearing a long peasant dress with a little off-the-shoulder black sweater my Aunt Nan gave me. The table under the trees is covered with a red and white checked cloth and a big bowl of steaming spaghetti and a green salad sparking red tomatoes have just arrived by the hands of three more friends emerging out of the dark.

They have hiked the mile up the glen for this dinner in honor of my 31st birthday: Doc Lynn Scecina is one face that comes into focus out of the shadows. And there is Eric Crocker.

If there are any jealousies flowing between us, I don’t know about them; if there are troubles to come, I don’t know about them. I am at a time and a place in my life that feels balanced on a gimbal of timelessness. The forward motion of our lives halts and some part of me steps back, outside the circle of the fire and looks in, clicking the deep shutter of memory, letting all the light in I can.

Heartsong Snowstorm

Heartsong Snowstorm
(after a form by Lex Runciman)

March snow storm—fast, fat,
furry flakes from the Coast Range
all the way across the Valley
floor to the Cascade
rim of our white ceramic
Willamette bowl.
Windshield wipers
parse glimpses of newborn lambs
suckling first milk:
white on white on white,
snowy air of my heart.

Skies of my heart cover
the woven basket of wetland
reeds, alkali flats,
sagebrush steppes: myths and rivers
of my childhood. Passive blue eye,
you who have seen my father’s curiosity,
followed his red socks into the desert,
trained his eyes to see
your Great Web, you will not blink
when my river, too,
has dried to a sand arroyo under your
pitiless sun,
burnt landscape of my heart.

And I have been followed by people
I do not know
into streets I have had to name myself.
At dawn, when mist rises
from the river and the fishermen
drink coffee, string line under the pilings
of the creosote docks,
the lovers find each other by the jade elephants
in Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe and children
tag their way to school through the back
alleys and dusty lots
of the lost city of my heart.

Be adventurous and kind,
tragic people of my heart,
I am inventing you
while my lungs still breathe
and the snow still falls
cold and white:
air of my heart.

–Sandy Jensen
March 12, 2009

Mandala for the End of Winter Quarter 2009


My personal interest in graphic expression leans heavily toward spontaneous art that lets various aspects of the unconscious have their say in the daylight. Mandalas are particularly suited to this because they are an ancient form understood at a pre-literate level. They are soul maps. In my mandalas, the spiral frequently shows up , and I identify it as my joie d’ vivre, my creative life essence.

  • Here I see myself as the spiral energy barrelling along under the central garden.
  • The garden is full of my students standing like fireweeds in full bloom with their seedheads blowing away in the wind of change.
  • On the right, in the West, is an apple tree, and that is my writing about childhood, an actual manuscript called “West of Wenatchee.”
  • The most interesting emergent energy to me is the long path swooping across the bottom under the spiral. I take that to be my novel on the move as I try to wrap things up at the end of the quarter and get ready to go to St. Louis to take a workshop dedicated just to that project.
  • The red streak that comes down to join with it is my physicality, but every mandala contains unspoken mysteries, as well.

Dreadsnake Mandala

Life is red as a barbecued steak
shared beneath the grape and oak;
dread is long as a diamond snake
the color of grief and smoke.