We returned to Pritchard Park where we’ve gone several other years. A Superfund site and the place where Japanese-American islanders began their long journey to internment camps right after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Six of us gathered on a hot sunny afternoon and discovered that Pritchard Park felt like Coney Island – the beach was crowded with young people, music blaring, lots of families splashing in the water – not exactly conducive to ceremony, BUT we did it anyway.

Six of us created beauty on a narrow spot very near the toxic end of the beach. All women, we ranged in age from 22 to 81 and ranged in circumstances too. One woman was in a dark and fragile time, another was about to embark on a two month solo backpacking pilgrimage along the Pacific Coast Trail. We gathered in a circle and began speaking of the balance of dark and light, the need to embrace the return of the dark and to recognize our sisters in the Southern Hemisphere who are embracing the return of the light. With song and poetic testimony we spoke of the world’s wounds, our grief for all the losses and injustices, the need for balance and harmony to reign on the globe, and then the specifics of this particular place, the global healing of Radical Joy.

Since Elly, Kathryn, Tricia and I arrived first – we’re used to making nature mandalas together – we recognized that we needed to respond a bit differently to the circumstances of this place on this day. We chose a more individualized mandala form – a center circle with a yin-yang symbol with individual circles rimming it. That meant four circles around the center circle. Then another woman arrived and we enlarged our mandala to include a fifth circle. Eventually the sixth woman arrived and she simply joined Elly in completing her part of the mandala.

I had vowed to everyone that I would make the RadJoy Bird in my circle, but after completing the rim, a feminine face wanted to appear in the sand instead.

Making beauty in wounded places, as well as more personal prayers, wove throughout our afternoon. To complete our ceremony we gathered in circle again to share what we’d learned during the process of creating with what we found on the beach. We left with tenderness for each other and gratitude for living.