Archive | Essays

‘Schindler’s List’ in Trump’s America

The first time I saw Schindler’s List, it enraged me.

Admittedly, this was not a typical response. Upon its release 25 years ago, the film was touted as the crowning glory of director Steven Spielberg’s career and 1993’s greatest cinematic achievement. At the Oscars that year, the adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s historical novel about true-life figure Oskar Schindler won seven Academy Awards, including Spielberg’s first for best director.

It wasn’t just that the 3-hour-and-16-minute film was expertly crafted. Though documentaries like “Night and Fog” (1955) and “Shoah” (1985) had already catalogued the ravages of the Third Reich, Spielberg’s feature about a German industrialist who saved more than a thousand Polish Jews ignited younger generations’ commitment to “never again” just as Holocaust survivors and witnesses were beginning to die out. In a 2013 interview, the director said, “The shelf life of ‘Schindler’s List’ has renewed my faith that films can do good work in the world.”

Really, as an introduction to both the horror and the goodness of which humans are capable, it was the ultimate Spielberg vehicle. And that was my problem in a nutshell. As the film’s credits rolled and people around me sniffed, I stormed out of the theater, saying, “Leave it to Spielberg to find the feel-good story of the Holocaust.” Continue Reading →

The Lanterns of Others

As you know, last month for my birthday I revisited the Mermaid Woods–what I call the Outer Cape, my perfect place, the region where I finally want to own a home. While I was there I stopped by Atlantic Spice Company, a kitchen and condiment supply store in Truro, Mass, my favorite oceanside town. I bought hot pepper salt for myself and B, licorice-mint tea in bulk for my Ruby Intuition clients, and pretty little pot covers in Oshun and Yemaya colors (sunflower and oceanic blue). In short, it was a magical shopping expedition, but that’s not even the best part of the story. The best part is that while I was ogling hand creams made from organic local herbs, I started speaking with a woman with the most beautiful white hair. I always initiate conversations with women with beautiful white hair because I’m preparing for the day that my head is all salt and no pepper, and I welcome advice from women who’ve already walked that path. This woman was lovely–funny and warm-and we traded details of what had brought us to this magical store in that magical moment. I offered her my birthday good wind–I always do that on my birthday–and in return the white-haired woman said she made hand creams of her own. “I live in Upstate New York, and I make a potion of local beeswax and lavender. Give me your address and I’ll send you a jar.” I gave it to her and as I did, I said, “I want you to know I’ll remember you fondly even if you throw my address away as soon as we part ways.” I meant it, too. She’d made me feel so good in our conversation about getting more radiant and true as we age.

Well. You know how this story goes. I came home Monday from a sad few days in Pennsylvania, and sitting pretty in my mailbox along with ugly bills and an uglier note from my landlord was a jar of lavender-beeswax lotion from this beautiful white-haired mermaid. People shine so much light when you least expect it. And it really brings home what I was feeling the Saturday before I’d left town. I’d spent the whole morning doing errands in my neighborhood and saying hello to everyone doing the same. In the middle of jokes exchanged at the farmers market, I’d remembered my favorite human truth: There are no strangers, only cousins you’ve not yet met.

Water and Wind, Fire and Father

I love channeling people’s best selves–which is all a soul really is–and I love charting people’s baby and big steps as they sometimes awkwardly, sometimes gracefully move into their true lives. But I’m not especially good at promoting my practice. Instead, I’m an old Jewish-Soux-Scot workhorse who does what needs to be done with as much joy and humor as possible, and somehow those who need me find me.

Today, as is the case most Fridays and Sundays, I had clients, and what amazed me most amazes me on every day of readings: Listening to the wind is all it really takes to help people find their way. This is especially true because it is Candlemas, the midpoint of winter solstice and spring equinox. Today Jesus offered himself to the temple while his beautiful mother Mary renewed herself with divine feminine love. In Celtic tradition, this is also known as Imbolic, Brigid’s festival of the holy well and the sacred flame; in other mythologies, it is the beginning of the end of hibernation. So what am I saying? That showing up is half the miracle. The other is breathing and trusting as you do.

Take my father Bernard Harvey, who celebrates his 76th birthday today. Since retiring from a life of math and science—he belongs to one of this country’s first generations of computer programmers–he’s delved into the world of arts and languages. He’s taught himself Spanish. He’s studied guitar and written his own songs. He’s even formed a punk rock band whose tracks are virulently anti-Trump. Apropos for a Candlemas baby, he’s using his personal winter to emerge from hibernation. With the clever latent magic of the water-bearer, he does not believe but still somehow knows. So do you. Come find me and I’ll show you how.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy