When I first met my daughter at an orphanage in Kathmandu 14 years ago, her head was cropped short against lice, as were all of the children’s. When she turned her head I could see that she had a double whorl that looked a lot like the two colliding galaxies above. For no particular reason, I thought, “Hmmmm, complex.” I was right.
I was thinking about her, not the overwhelming complexity of what she was bringing with her, the galaxy of her traumatic background, her early profound losses, long years in an orphanage and her fragile sense of herself and her own self-worth. In the exuberance of mothering, loving, nurturing, we did not focus on the scars. We saw a valiant, brave, inquisitive, beautiful child. We talked about her past when it came up, had therapy when it seemed appropriate, but did not dwell on the trauma.
In four billion years, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way will collide. Astronomers also speak of them as merging or interacting. They will become one massive thing. From what I understand, both galaxies are strong and fully formed, so the collision will transform them, but will not destroy them utterly. Apparently the bigger Andromeda will direct the action.
When the unconscious past – in the form of old traumas and losses – rises up and collides with the present, the possibilities for destruction and transformation are both there. When galaxies collide, the starburst results in the birth of numerous “young, hot blue stars.” However, only the very brightest and largest clusters are capable of surviving the galaxy collision, the numerous smaller clusters are destroyed by rapidly changing gravitational forces.
So we pray that our daughter is one of those bright and strong surviving clusters. But we are seeking help. Our Tibetan friend, Phuntsok, is asking a Buddhist priest to cast a “mo;” a divination tool used to determine possible future outcomes. One of its uses is to help cast out evil spirits or lift an evil spell. There are 36 possible outcomes with names like “the demon of afflictions,” “the overflowing jeweled vessel,” “the nectar-like medicine,” and “adding butter to the burning flames.” The one that I am hoping for is “the jeweled banner of victory” and I plan to use “the great fiery weapon” of my love to move in that direction.
But really, it is up to her, this decision to move toward recovery and health, or to stay in the world of Mara. In Buddhism, Mara represents the “unwholesome impulses, un-skillfulness, the “death” of the spiritual life. Mara is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.” This reminds me of my favorite fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen, in which an evil mirror created by trolls shatters, and the splinters are blown around and get into people’s hearts and eyes, making their hearts frozen like blocks of ice and their eyes see only the bad and ugly in people and things. When a splinter blows into the eye of the little boy, distorting everything he sees and freezing his heart, only the tears of his sister can rinse out the splinter and melt his heart.
So, galaxies, demons, divination, fairy tales, prayers and love. Mostly love. Always love.