Day Schildkret, author, artist and creator of Morning Altars, returns to Lakewood to teach his therapeutic and impermanent nature/art practice that helps people move through loss and grief back into life, inspiration and meaning.
Day uses art, nature and ritual to help grieving people see how a semblance of order can bring some tranquility to life. “Whatever threshold you’re walking through, such as a loved one’s death, you can do something empowering. You have resources,” Day explains.
Lakewood’s Fourth Annual Midsummer Memory Mandala Event on July 16 –17
Day will lead a weekend of celebrating rituals, sparking creativity and honoring remembrance at Lakewood on Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17. “Lakewood is the perfect place for what I do because Lakewood is a place for remembering and my art is all about remembering,” Day says.
Art Born from Grief
“My entire practice started with my own grief story,” explains Day. “After my dad’s death, I adopted his dog. I would take her on long walks and because I was so devastated, I was always looking down and spotted things that had fallen to the earth, like a feather or a leaf or berries or stones.”
“One morning I walked the dog to the top of the hill,” he recalls, “and I sat down and started to arrange some beautiful mushrooms and stones that I’d found. An hour went by like it was a minute, and before me was this symmetrical piece of art. I realize now I was trying to make order from a time that seemed very disordered. I needed to bring stability to my life which felt so unstable.”
Day’s practice of foraging and then arranging natural elements became a daily ritual and he quickly discovered that the beautiful kaleidoscope patterns he created soothed his grief: “I wasn’t just making something pretty. I was making something meaningful.”
Day now travels all over the world teaching others that an everyday practice of creating mandalas can help people navigate all life’s transitions, both happy and sad. One element that makes the practice so powerful is because it is so accessible. Anyone can make a mandala anywhere — at home, at a park, at a beach — and everyone can do it, whether you’re five or 95. “All you have to do,” Day says, “is find things that have fallen to the earth.”
Lakewood is all about Remembering
Approaching his fourth visit to Lakewood, Day shares why this place is so special to him. “I often tell the story of a young boy I met at Lakewood two summers ago. After I finished teaching, I sent the group off to create their own mandalas. After a while I led everyone on an art tour, so that all the creators had a chance to share the meaning behind their pieces. A five-year-old boy took my hand and led me to the altar he’d made. The boy pointed out several patterns of seven including leaves, berries and stones. Then the boy told the group, “My brother died last year and I’m dedicating this altar to him because he left us when he was seven.”
Day still chokes up with the memory of this young boy seeking meaning from numbers and shapes by creating something beautiful to honor his brother.
Lakewood and Day – A Powerful Partnership
Day has found several students who are now in his year-long teaching program through Lakewood. “I think that Lakewood’s mission to go back to a time when cemeteries were places that families came not just to visit their dead but to be gathering places, really brings life and meaning to so many.”
It’s also the perfect place for Day to share his new book, “Hello, Goodbye: 75 Rituals for Times of Loss, Celebration, and Change.” The book encourages readers to embrace the power of ritual with simple practices to honor and mark the real moments in your life. Signed copies will be available at both Saturday and Sunday’s events.
Join Day for Lakewood’s Midsummer Memory Mandalas on July 16-17. The public art installation on Saturday, July 16 is free and open to the public. Tickets for the hands-on, small group mandala making workshops with Day on Sunday, July 17 are available here.