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Learn seven steps to transform your grief into beauty, inspiration and meaning.

Photo by Bre McGee for Uncommon Collaborative.

Day Schildkret, founder, and earth artist of Morning Altars, helps people move through loss and grief back into life, inspiration and meaning through a therapeutic nature art practice. When Day returns to Lakewood on Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30 for Midsummer Memory Mandalas, he will lead a transformative weekend of celebrating rituals, sparking innate creativity and honoring those we have loved and lost.   

On Saturday afternoon, Day will share his one-of-a-kind mandala art installation created from foraged natural materials from Lakewood’s sacred grounds, including rocks, seeds and flowers. “The lens of memory at Lakewood makes this a perfect place to engage in the ritual of earth art,” explains Day.  

Additionally, Day will share the seven steps he uses in his daily practice and illustrate how others can employ these steps to create their own healing artwork ritual. 

  • Wonder and Wander. Embark on a treasure hunt of the senses venturing into nature to forage for treasures. 
  • Place. Connect with the healing power of nature through immersion in the energy and wisdom of the land. 
  • Clear. Welcome new creative inspiration by revealing a blank canvas in a metaphorical gesture of letting go.  
  • Create. Allow imagination to flourish by gathering pieces in nature that engage the senses in a cathartic expression of emotions. 
  • Gift. Cultivate a practice of generosity and set intentions for each piece of art. This is especially meaningful at Lakewood where remembering is paramount. 
  • Share. Capture the art creations to share the healing energy and transformative power of art and nature.  
  • Let Go. Accept the impermanence of art as we understand impermanence in life. Embrace the beauty that can be found in walking away and opening up to new beginnings. 

On Sunday, Day will lead two hands-on workshops. “My goal is to help each person develop a practice to make meaning from their losses and connect to something much greater than themselves, especially when life unexpectedly changes.” 

Lakewood is the perfect setting for beauty and remembrance 

Day’s art this year will focus on the cemetery’s vast and impressive canopy of trees in honor of Lakewood’s recent accreditation as a level II arboretum. (Only the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a level IV, ranks higher in our state). Guests at the art installation on Saturday will have the opportunity to light an LED candle in honor of lost loved ones.  

Lakewood and Day – A powerful partnership

Approaching his fifth visit to Lakewood, Day explains one reason that this place is so special to him is that memory and grief are such key components of his art. “I think 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.”  

In his transformational book, Morning Altars, Day tells a story about creating impermanent art as a beautiful and meaningful way to move through grief and honor lost loved ones. The occasion was the death of Day’s dear companion, Rudy, a stout and stubborn miniature schnauzer.  

After Rudy’s death, Day and friends buried her under two towering Redwood trees in a grave filled with wild chamomile flowers, fennel branches, desert sage stems and shells from a favorite beach. Day says, “As my friends and I buried her little body, I felt compelled to create an altar. I arranged a circle of pinecones and let my tears mingle with the earth. The altar was a deep expression of my love and grief.”  

Join Day and Lakewood for Midsummer Memory Mandalas on July 29 and 30. The public art installation on Saturday, July 29 is free and open to the public. Tickets for the hands-on, small group mandala making workshops with Day on Sunday, July 30 are available here.  

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