I am staring out the window as the rain falls sideyways praying thanks in chants. The high hill is being washed clean. She has a hat mist made. Black dark the crow by her rock face. Green are her slopes – the early whin green, before the yellow bursts begin. A bright white gull floats free on breezes. My heart is bellowing Sanskrit. My chant-prayers sing out of the patio doors to my neighbours’ kitchens. Father Sun scorched us, then hid. Mother moon slivered silver. Venus, Mercury and Mars are in Aries. A global magnetic anomaly. All my life went retrograde, again. My only child came home needing kindnesses and home-grown food. Gratitude heats my heart, rushes out from my solar plexus, fills this bright light room. She slept last night. I think she hasn’t slept for a year. Her eyes are sunken into too-white skin. Her rosy glow grown from a childhood on the Isle of Skye will return. She is home. She is safe, finally.
For two years I have chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo 1 every day, all day, for my daughter’s safe return. Often, when she was newly disappeared, I woke screaming in the night and chanted my magic phrase to bring me peace and shine a light into the trauma in our history. A fraction of the karma the bogs of Ireland bestowed is healed. The eldest girl of this family is home.
The coffee bubbles. I will bring it to her when it is cooled in a glass with ice and caramel and foamy froth. I am learning that iced lattés are this teenager’s favourite tipple. Later, we will walk the hill foot paths to talk and cry out all the harms flung upon us. The hill overlooking this part of the village is named Craig Leith. It is a vertical shale mound. When driving the back road from Alloa, this hill resembles a dragon. A rock face or maybe spine is free from grasses or heathers. Sometimes I see this exposed stone as face bones of the dragon, other times, this ridge of grey gleaming rock is like thigh bones. Above our end of the town, in the centre of bare open rock-bone is a vertical slit. It could be twenty feet high. A giant’s front door. Or a dragon’s mouth, where tooth meets gum. Scraps of sun dance in the slit, as if caught in the mouth. The mist looks like breath. I wish to be the dragon’s roar, when they wake, some day. Meantime may my voice be the mist coming down off the hill, seeping, dreeping, cleaning. I pray now for a world of kosen-rufu, where the peace and happiness of all Earthlings is all there is. I beg the unseen worlds for my daughter’s happiness, humbled with the joy that she came home.
I have Buddhist beads of Lapis Lazuli in my hands. They are not so different from the Rosary beads I had as a child growing up in holy Catholic Ireland. I prayed on my knees every day of childhood, begging to be good enough. I have never yet felt good enough. My Saturday nights as a teenager were spent in Nurse Kiernan’s house with ladies of the parish of Wicklow Town. We recited decades of the Rosary together. They were concerned mainly with Pope John Paul the second’s health and wellbeing. I wanted love.
I grasp the beads in sweating palms.
‘Thank you, thank you.’ I repeat over and over to the Buddha, the Daishonin, Sensei, and my Mother our Earth. I chant from my Gongyo book, begging for the enlightenment which eases the shite of life, by transforming the energy of difficult situations. My prayers must revolutionize the energy of fear we have both survived. We were ripped from each other then reunited in grace. I know the Mystic Law of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo transformed the trauma. I know a miracle happened. The heat and beat of my chant resounds. I bellow it out. Sometimes it sounds like the Native American drum, hard at the vowels, passion percussion-ed staccato echoing into, round, out of my heart, my chest, my belly. Faster, harder I chant. My throat dries. Breath circles from my belly, rising to fill my lungs, my back, my shoulders, my brain. The chant is all there is. Deepest gratitude and appreciation that I have Buddhism.
I met this brand of Buddhism in December 2018 outside the post office in Findhorn village. A woman from London I barely knew saw my face as I stumbled home drunk on whiskey after a day grieving on the beach. Her compassion reached my heart before I knew she was speaking to me.
‘What has happened? What is wrong? You look broken.’ She asked me. I told her about the social worker and my child and the party but I had no explanations then, no comprehension of what had gone wrong. I was eaten with guilt, confusion and helplessness. That lady took me to her home and sat me in front of her Gohonzon and taught me those four words. Thank you Haseena Hassan.
‘Even the lotus flower can blossom in filth – so can you. This prayer will bring you healing.’ She told me and made me lentil dahl. ‘This form of Buddhism is the Soka Gakkai International’s endeavour for world peace. The world needs to see your Boddhisatva soul” said Haseena Hassan. She came to my home every day for six months, to teach me how.
Two years have passed. I rescued my girl and brought her home.
Today we are meeting with Moray Council complaints department, who are themselves investigating my daughter’s “care” experience on behalf of the Care Inspectorate, the Ombudsman and Holyrood. ‘Care’ is a misnomer -it is utterly the wrong word. I have demanded to know why. Why was she in ‘care’. Why was she told she could never see me again.
Six of us are sat under trees. The grey and green rocks of the Ochils stretch up to Heaven. There’s a tint of rust might be heather about to burst from high on a precipice. There’s no old man here to hang over a five-bar gate to tell the the names and the stories of these hills. Their past is un-mined in caves no one can access. The nearest one, glinting is known as Witches Craig. I saw the name on a road sign. Two buzzards whirl and screech. A peregrine protects a nest. It is too hot for crows to fly or caw.
A Saint from Cork, a Peacemaker, the seer and the cynic are sat at two wooden picnic benches pushed together. The swan-pond lies lily laden. My child asked the inspectors to meet her in the grounds of Stirling University. She said she feels safe there. The Peacemaker leans in. His clear blue eyes have a green glaze. He has no blink function. He has questions. The cynic taps everything into her laptop. The seer hunches down opposite my child, holding space, being there. He is a dark young man from Glasgow who spent two days in a Nature school with her, four years ago and has followed her ever since. I like him. He and I are recording this event. I sit for an hour. Then walk the paths around the bench with the dog at my heels. I chant today to reveal the Buddhahood in Moray Council social workers. My new mentor Wendy Hunter has nagged me relentlessly into doing this. I chant today that they may know compassion. And that I may know compassion for them. The Saint sits beside my child as the Peacemaker begins. The Saint is an advocate. I found her on a website. She works with young people who have experience of foster care. She helps them find their lost voices – she helps them speak to the people who operate the social work system.
The cynic operates within the social work system She says little over the next five hours. She displays no emotion or concern for anyone and jumps if a fly lands on her. My daughter discloses the unadulterated neglect and abuse she experienced in foster care in Moray, her mother ripped from her, because she had a party. She is a star woman incarnating. She is glowing with the light of authenticity. Her voice is calm and clear. She tells the whole truth and nothing but. I remember the months I sent ten thousand shotenzen jin to her every morning and evening. My chants are the dragon roar from deep in the hills.
When I return to the bench, I am serene. A Red Admiral has flown beside me and lands on the cynic’s arm. The cynic muffles a shriek. My own daughter is speaking to the peacemaker for every young person she left behind in foster care in Moray. She wants an acknowledgement that her removal from me was wrong. She wants the unlawful separations of mothers from children to end. She is the voice of the voiceless in this moment. My teenaged daughter wishes to discuss the violations by Moray Council of Article Eight of the Human Rights Act. Her desire to see her mother was denied her. Repeatedly. With no evidence, reason or logic.
There is little difference in my heart between the abuse of children and the rape of the land. If we wish to end one, we should start with the other.
My poetry professor taught me how to notice, and to write what I notice. This is my finding – the cynic and the peacemaker have no concerns with the plastic bottles of water I have placed in front of them. They make neither comment nor acknowledgement. The Saint produces her own thermos, shaking her head at the plastic. The seer also refuses water because of plastic and the star-woman incarnating is grateful to whet her whistle. The pair from the fear-based systems also baulk at butterflies, this indicates to me a serious disconnect from Mother Earth, from Love, from nurture. It is my own opinion that those in the fear based systems who do not realize the impact of plastic and cannot show love to a wing-ed one are the ones most in need of total immersion in the loving embrace of our planet, until they can comprehend. Maybe if they loved the Earth, her creatures, maybe they could protect children.
I sit, knowing I have judged the Peacemaker and the cynic on their relationship to the grounds gone wild of Stirling University and bottled water. It is heart renderingly impossible for me to listen to the outpourings of encouraged drug and alcohol use, the unsafe situations, the ritual violence and erosion of self – the actions which are all normal everyday doings of those who wish complete power over another. Which my daughter has endured, unable to contact me as the foster carer took her phone, gave her a new number and convinced my only child I did not want her anymore. It was only after eighteen months, on the day I drove hundreds of miles to rescue her, that the foster carer revealed to her that she could have come home any time she wanted. As I collected her from the screaming abuse of the foster carer, her few belongings in black plastic bags, the foster carer finally admitted her lies. It is hard to hear.
I walk around again. I am chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for the peace and happiness of all Earthlings. At the entrance to the Macrobert Arts Centre, which is just behind the benches are some hand painted rocks. I choose the biggest pinkest painted rock and take it to my daughter, placing it on the table in front of her. LOVE says the stone. The seer giggles. Later, he told me he thought I was about to thwack the Peacemaker over the head with it. ‘No,’ I told him. ‘I wasn’t going to hit either of them, or frighten them, but I would like them to meet some wise women I know who could help teach them kosen rufu.’
They cannot see Nature as we do, as something to love, to treasure. They were uncomfortable in nature, as if nature was outwith their control, and, as such, something to fear. They do not see our connection to each other. I know people who can help cure this affliction.’
Her tale drips out. She had a party when I was in Holyrood Parliament at a book event. She was drugged. She went to the doctor. Rather than spot a spiking or ordering a rape kit, the doctor and the social worker decided I was to blame, took her away, kept her away, for eighteen months. While I camped in Council offices, emailed the head of child protection, organized private mediation, therapy, gifts, she was informed I did not care, or I was dangerous. All I could do was chant, all day, all week, every week, for nearly two years.
We know seven other families this happened to, in Moray. When the Peacemaker turns to me, I ask, ‘are you grooming them yourself, or do you get paid for it?’ The green glaze left him; the blue shone. I saw a man in truth. I suspect he knows why pretty girls vanish.<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">I chant for an end to child abuse. Kosen-rufu is the reason I live.I chant for an end to child abuse. Kosen-rufu is the reason I live.