Some Buddhist monks are creating a mandala near here, and I went to watch them this afternoon. (This isn't it, but it's a good example.) It was beautiful.
The monk who was working on the mandala was so young, much younger than I'd expected. When I walked in (they're creating it in the basement of a museum before dispersing it over a lake on Sunday), he was kneeling at the board with several children ranged around him. He'd given them small piles of sand to play with on the outer corners of the board. As I watched, he reached over to the girl beside him and gently shaped her little pile of sand into a perfect heart. He was dressed in burgundy and red, and I could hardly take my eyes off him. He had beautiful feet.
The mandala was incredible. I wished I could have brought the kids. I'd be much more comfortable bringing them to something like this than I would be bringing them to any type of traditional ceremony (not because I have any less respect for it, but because I think Buddhism is more about accepting and being and less about why-isn't-your-kid-standing-still), but in the end I decided it would stress me out too much, and they wouldn't get much out of it with me sitting on them.
Viewing its creation is supposed to confer certain blessings, namely the clearance of future obstacles and past mistakes. Do I believe that? No, but wouldn't it be lovely if I did? Wouldn't it be?