It rocked my world. I resonated with it and it felt deeply true to my experience in working with various clients, both pre- and post-MSW. It continues to be something I share with social service workers when I conduct workshops across the country. And how I understand my ministry.
Our relationships – or the best of them – are not one-way streets, in which we effect change (subject-verb-object). They are (or should be) mutual and in some cases, transformative.
This past summer I had the great fortune to travel in Europe to see old, dear friends and to meet family for the first time. While in London, I attended an exhibit at the National Maritime Museum, which is part of the complex that holds the Royal Observatory (where the Prime Meridian is) and the Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper. The exhibit was of photographs of space, many taken from the Hubble Telescope.
Some I had seen before; others were new to me. Because of their size (enormous), their color (saturated and vibrant), and the setting (dark, somewhat solemn), it was awe-inducing.
For me, this image took the cake:
It’s called “Two interacting galaxies, Arp 273.” Not particularly poetic, but it still caught my attention. Phil Plait, astronomy blogger formerly at Discovery and now at Slate, describes it thusly:
Years ago, astronomer Halton Arp observed and cataloged a large number of oddly-shaped galaxies, and we now know these galaxies are interacting gravitationally, and some are colliding. These two galaxies, UGC 1810 (top) and UGC 1813 (bottom) are just such a pair. Collectively called Arp 273, they are in the early stages of a collision.
One of the delightful parts of the exhibit was commentary from various scientists on their favorite image. This is what Dr. David Malin, British-Australian astronomer and photographer, said about this image:
After billions of years of separation, two galaxies meet in space. For awhile, they circle each other, their mutual attraction gradually drawing them together in what will become an eternal embrace. Early in their relationship, the galaxies are distorted by their interaction, gravity bending their spiral arms into delicate curves and triggering the formation of clusters of hot blue stars. Eventually, they will merge and in a billion years or so, become one – a giant elliptical galaxy.
This is the cosmos confirming Carl Jung’s observation. Or Carl Jung vibing off one of the essential truths of the cosmos. Or both.
There are time when we interact with others, drawn — as it were — by their gravitational pull. We collide with them and enter into a dance – sometimes awkward, often strange, now and then whimsical, at times exasperating and not the smallest bit inconvenient – and are changed by them. Forever.
(View related poem here.)