Stardust Transit by Shiloh Sophia
“I have been traveling for some 70,000 years to arrive at this point on the path, on the Earth,” she said, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
I replied, “That is quite a long time—have you brought your cherished beliefs along with you?”
“No” she said. “I lost them along the way, but only a few years back. I carried them with me for a long time. But they are gone now. I feel quite liberated on one hand, and rather lonely on the other.” With that, she put her head down, as if she were looking at something far below.
“I see. Well, regardless of how you feel about it, that is a cherished place to arrive at. Even if you can no longer hold onto what you thought you knew. Especially what you fought for and stood by and told others about. It can be good to let those go. Except for one, of course—but that one isn’t a belief; it may be the only true thing humans ever arrive at,” I said, hoping she would pick up the thread—or perhaps I was offering a riddle. She was quiet for a long while, and somberness seemed to settle about her as she contemplated my words.
“I think I know about that one true thing. As I search myself, I can’t find anything else that really matters. Yet, it may be the hardest thing of all. And most of us don’t really practice it—but some of us knew about it because it was shared with us. We reached for it, spoke about it, sang after it, shared it, offered it, surrendered ourselves to it. We even put it into our art. That one true thing is love. But not love in concept—love in action. Unreasonable love. Love that makes you do things you don’t always want to do. Love that makes you go out of your way, makes you take risks for other humans your brain tells you are going to be too much trouble. Love, the kind of love that only feels worth it later, after your heart has been opened one more time to see the realness of humanity. It isn’t that we are broken. We aren’t. Rather, we think we are not made to open, but we are. We are made to open, even if it hurts. We call this heart-breaking, but it is more like expanding, pulsing, re-imagining, she-shaping, moving from a previous framework. Rather than contracting or breaking or cracking. Without the opening, the love doesn’t come out. All this avoiding the pain thing has really caused a lot of problems.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “I think they introduced that particular version of not getting your heart broken around the 1920s. It was a tragic introduction that got perpetuated by modernism, sexism, existentialism, and other isms that shaped our thoughts without regard for the real stuff of life. Yes, love. That is the one true thing. The thing we rarely arrive at but are always seeking, while also avoiding. The ultimate paradox. Love is going to lift, but love is also going to call down the thunder,” I added, feeling this in my own body.
I watched as the artist got up and began to move her hands over the painting she had just finished. A masterwork, over eight feet by twelve feet on wood, it was quite formidable to behold, even for me—and I have seen a lot of attempts at being fully human over the past few thousand years. I went up to the painting and pointed to a shape, asking a question with the expression on my face.
“Oh that,” she said affectionately.” Those are the shapes of prayers. That bundle of dots was for the entire planet, and there are some tears mixed into the paint. Tiny dots and marks we add when someone is suffering.”
“Who is ‘we’?” I asked. “You said, ‘We add when someone is suffering’—to whom are you referring?
“Well, there are around 10,000 of us. And when someone is hurting, we add dots. We call them prayer dots. You could be the one suffering, and it helps you feel that pain and move it along into form. Or it could be someone else you know. Or even many millions that you don’t know. Some of us, over time, develop an unreasonable desire to end suffering. We pray for all beings. Somehow, we are actually doing that. Some of us actually believe it helps.” She was looking deeply at the dots now, remembering when she had put them there over thirteen moons before.
“You said the word ‘believe’—I thought you said you have given up all belief? Have you, or haven’t you?”
“I have given up belief in my old traditions, my old gods, and my old stories of how this all works. I have given up defending any sort of religiosity or political stance or asserting a certain scientific phenomenon—those are all a continuum. I guess the beliefs I have are about how love actually works.”
“How does love work?” I asked, walking to the other side of the painting to give her space while keeping my focus on the shapes. I wanted to see what she said here—this was a pivotal moment in her development, as a human.
“Love is something you live. You can’t wait to feel it—you just start practicing it anyway because you know that there is something here to explore. Then, as you make these dots, or these marks, or these lines, something happens. I don’t know how it works—but yes, I guess I do believe this love goes out beyond this hand, this brush, this painting, this museum, and it travels, somehow, through the air to reach those who aren’t feeling loved. Now I am sounding all Northern Californian, suddenly. The truth is that I don’t know how love works. But I know that when I practice it and make it real, here on the painting, love is moving from me into the world through my intention.” She was walking to the edge now, and I could see that she was almost ready by the way she was being, in her body. The field around her was rippling, almost popping with aliveness.
“Sounds quantum,” I said. “And yes, love does move that way. And yes, I could see how that could form a belief, through practice.”
She was nodding yes. She backed up from the painting, taking in the magnitude of it. The symbol of her creativity, the path of her healing, the big bang interpreted as co-creation with two eggs, the fiery field egg from which she emerged, the stars the day she was born, and the human form, stretching into the cosmos, the map of over thirteen billion years, according to this artist was a kind of magnum opus at this point on the path. Now I was nodding yes, too.
“Giving up certainty is kind of like a new holy ground for me. I am standing here just now, after all of this time. I have made a stardust transit to this moment, right here.”
“Have you arrived, then?” I ask.
“I believe I have. And now that I am here, I am leaving again.” Tears came to her eyes. I watched as she took the tears and pressed them into the stars from the day she was born right onto the surface of the painting. I imagined her salt going back into the stars. Making contact.
“Say more,” I urged her, hoping she would make the complete transit.
“Well. My family left the continent of Africa close to 70,000 years ago. The mitochondrial DNA of our matriarch ends with me since no child will bear this helix of continuity. I am the end of the line. There will be no more of our kind, our kin, our story of arrival on earth. My family, we are completing. This painting revealed that to me. I was in my grandmother when my mother was in her womb, and now I stand, becoming an Elder myself, with no stardust to pass on from my own body.” The gravity in her voice was palpable. There was deep sorrow, but also something else. I moved closer, creating an invitation with my body language.
“This painting completed my stardust transit. I have arrived, only to leave again in some other form—but not DNA, not lineage.” She paused, as if having an idea that hadn’t quite formed yet. “I have a lineage of dots.”
“Indeed, you do.”
“I guess it is human to hope you continue in some way—but I am also giving that up now. I . . . I . . . I . . . have loved. Not as big as I wanted, but bigger than I thought was possible. I risked having my heartbroken and went in willingly to that place where some of us never return. I gave myself to love, to be shaped as a human being.”
“Don’t spend your days now thinking of what you didn’t do, or how your DNA is completing,” I said. “What matters is that you brought forth something true from your ancestors, and that is enough.” I gave her a half-smile, encouraging her to not dwell in the sorrow I felt as she spoke.
“Something true?” she asked, her eyes brightening. For that was all she ever wanted—something true.
“What do you think it is?”
“I gave the gift that was in me in this lifetime. Which feels like it has been developing for such a long time. As if, somehow, around 7,000 years ago, our people forgot about this gift, and I was able to pick up the trail again and share it. Is that right?”
“Yes, that is something true,” I said. “Most humans don’t spend their lives living a gift. Circumstance, heartbreak, family conditions—you name it—keep them from living it out. At times, the carried gift that is the most important thing feels as if it is insignificant when it is the most precious of all things. The most precious of all things never belongs to just one person. If anyone tries to keep it for themselves, the gift just moves onto another destination. Does your gift have a name?”
“I call the gift Intentional Creativity. When we make with love, what we make changes and is charged with love. That love returns to us and also moves out into the world.”
“You said ‘we’ again. Who is ‘we’?”
“All of those who make the dots—we are the lineage of dots. This is way more than just me, but I was somehow available to bring this through. I have dedicated the past twenty-seven years of my life force to bringing it out. Never moving my feet off the path.”
“Has it been hard?”
“You bet. There were a lot of things I wanted to do: have a family, write books, run art galleries in New York, Paris, San Francisco, develop my own painting—but more than any of those things, I wanted to end violence against women. And that kept me going. I did not accomplish that, however. The violence seems worse than ever.”
“Precious soul, you thought at first, you were here to end violence against women inflicted upon them by others,” I said. “And that has been your spark of passion, and even a drive, to tend the thing that you most loved, safety and honor for women. This desire moved you forward on the path, though the goal remained ever elusive. Because, this violence will not be going away for some time as you now, know. Yet your deepest heart call was different than that—we could not tell you all the details, then. We just don’t work that way with full disclosure. You just had to accept the assignment and run with it. We tried to help you as you went along. And you actually did fulfill your assignment.” I looked at her directly for the first time. Her eyes were clear and green, seeing what I was saying on some unseen level. I thought I could see her feeling relief. She was letting it register in her whole body that maybe she had done the work she was put here to do. Afterall.
“What then, have I accomplished?” She asked looking curious and seeking confirmation.
“The sacred assignment you were given was to bring through the gift—that which you call Intentional Creativity. The particular charge of this station that you have been fulfilling was bringing the teaching of ending violence within. If we do not end the violence within, we ourselves will be violent to ourselves, or others, or allow it to happen to us. The first awakening is to end the violence within. Everything else is either shadowed or illuminated from that perspective.”
“I see,” she said, smiling broadly now, without hesitation in her eyes. I watched as it appeared as though a storm was clearing from her face.
“How do you really feel—in the innermost chamber of your being?” I asked
“I feel deep, abiding joy. An unreasonable joy that is not connected with any particular thing. Yet knowing that the assignment has been carried out, and can be shared, is a relief.”
“There is something else I want to tell you,” I told her as I measured my tone of voice, softening while preparing for what came next. “More is being requested of you—I know you feel really done. But there is a new assignment available for those who have completed stations like yours. It may not be an elevation or a promotion—sorry, it isn’t a hierarchy here. This may require even more than what you have already given.” I watched her back away slowly, but I did not lose her gaze. We were in a moment of transition that many souls don’t even arrive at, let alone don’t get to consider. The work beneath the work.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I am tired right now. I want to enjoy my newly found revelations that this is the end of the line, I brought the gift, though it was different than I thought, and there is a lineage of dots. Good ’nuf for now . . . isn’t it?”
“You always have a choice. Even when you don’t think you do—that is a choice, too.”
“I am dreaming of tropical islands and piña coladas and a bikini big enough even for the likes of me.” She laughed then, and so did I. The laughter between us felt good, like a uniting moment in this story of her stardust transit.
“Well. When you are ready, we will be here. Ready for you” I said, understanding that cosmic requests do take some time to agree to.
“Who is ‘we’?” she asked, but I had already disappeared back into where I came from.
A conversation with my soul.