Once upon a time there was a girl. Her name was Agó. She lived on a farm, in a faraway country called Uruguay; so distant that some people thought it was a new planet.
She was more beautiful than the flower that “The Little Prince” took care of so much. Carlos, her father, an incredible artist and inventor, taught her how to paint the sun. People in the village say that he mixed old colors and new ones appeared and that people with happy faces came emerged from his paintings. Agó inherited her father’s love for the sun and she was a truly gifted girl. She could turn black into beautiful rainbows just by shaking her paintbrush.
When she grew into a woman Agó discovered that she could heal people through mandalas* which have been popular in some cultures from ancient times. Actually, Agó discovered that she had a special healing power while painting a mandala.
When she was about to finish a particular piece of art – one such mandala, a woman, who was hidden behind a tree and watching her paint was so captivated by Ago’s movements that Agó swears she saw butterflies coming out from the center of the painting. She went running to tell the priest of the village. The priest was not surprised; he had met Agó when she was a girl and he knew that one day, she would develop some sort of mystical gift.
Magdalena, which is Agó’s real name, has a sister and a brother. They are different from her, which was not surprising because they were all one of a kind, although they did share something: the love for nature, the passion for what they did. Each of the three also celebrates life.
Agó loves animals and lives in the countryside. She wakes up with the sound of her hen singing and her dogs’ noisy breath while stretching.
The first thing she does is to look up the sky; she searches for the sun and prays. Do you know why? Villagers say that when her father passed away he chose to live in the sun, a star he with which he was in love; that he developed special powers so as not to get burned. So Agó is now aware that Carlos, who has always been her mentor, is always taking care of her and his other loved ones. “Isn’t that magical?” Agó says.
The place where Agó lives is called Punta Ballena. It is also shaped in a circle and is her sacred and mystical spot. Everywhere you look there are trees and flowers… It feels like you are in a jar surrounded by scented candles. But it is also her kindness that makes this place so special.
The sea is also close by and its refreshing water also brings a special gift to take away villagers’ sorrows as if their grief was written in water and taken away by the waves…
There is another legend about the place where Agó lives and it tells of how some time ago, a woman took her little daughter to the seashore. Her daughter was sick – almost dying, and mother and daughter spent the whole night by the sea, under the moon. In the morning, when the sun came up, this mother found baby was not only alive but vibrant and healthy. “Miracles do exist,” she thought, “Jesus is proof of that and he has many ways of revealing to people.”
Agó – or Magdalena which is her real name – once married a prince; he was handsome and gentle but humble. All the women in Punta Ballena wanted to marry him but his eyes were only for Agó and she was devoted to him too.
They were meant to be together, to walk along this path named life, holding hands, laughing, crying, sharing, so they got married. The ceremony was simple. It had the beauty of love and friendship, the perfect recipe for a couple to last. They are friends, true and dearest mates who had two blessed children. Today they also have three grandchildren; each one of them has inherited the traditional family wisdom which shows in their eyes. Surely, they will – in turn – give them the special powers that Agó has. It is just a matter of time.
Today, Agó, this girl who painted the sun with her father has become an artist herself and a woman who devotes her life to helping others – children, mostly. Her deepest wish is that we will someday become aware that we must go green, help nature, do good to others, believe and trust in something bigger than ourselves.
Now that your eyes are closing and you are about to fall asleep I will speak the words that a villager told me he heard Agó utter to a child before bedtime: “Think of a circle and draw it in the sky, fill it with the colors you like the most; add some soft music. When you are set, blow it like a balloon so that my father will catch it in the air. I am sure he will love it and keep it with the thousands he receives every night.
“Now relax your body and ease your mind because Jesus will take care of you. Regarding me, I will cherish you and rock you like a baby in my own dreams so that, when you wake up, you will find a flower in a circle next to your pillow”.
Agó Páez Vilaró is a real person. She does live in an artistic house surrounded by mature trees and it does look like a mandala surrounded by scented candles. She is a painter of these mandalas and she also has a mysterious “healing” power. It resides in her voice, her art and the love she has for life. She also did inherit all her gifts from her father who was also a special, gifted person. She was interviewed by Maria Cabeza and this interview A Brief Encounter with The Sun was published in this journal on March 1, 2019.
*Mandala – literally a “circle” – is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing the attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. In the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shintoism mandalas are used as maps representing deities, or – especially in the case of Shintoism – they represent paradise, kami or actual shrines. (Willa Jane Tanabe, (2001) in “Japanese Mandalas: Representations of Sacred Geography”, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies p28