Last week’s Presidential debate was such a repugnant display, I felt assaulted and turned it off after 5 minutes. Trump has hijacked the American narrative; there was a time this Nation saw itself as a beacon to the world; we are no longer that. We are governed by untruths, misinformation, and never by transparency; where racism is not denounced, and hostile confrontations escalate. I went to bed depressed.
The next morning, I got an email from a young German woman I hadn’t seen in 16 years, and it lifted me up. Amalia, now 21 years old, is the daughter of the juggler I met in Kassel 40 years ago performing in a public park. He was juggling apples and grapefruits while riding a unicycle and had a great comedic rap. He said something that made me to look again at my preconceptions and rage toward Germans, and it had a profound impact on my life.
I’ve written and spoken about it and was telling the story years later at a workshop I was conducting in Germany. Afterwards, one of the participants asked me if I knew the name of the juggler. I said I had no idea; she said my description of him sounded familiar and that she might be able to find out. I said I would love to speak with him and to let me know if she located him.
She found out who he was, and that sadly he died just several years ago, but if I wanted to meet his wife and daughters she might be able to arrange it. When I returned the following year, I met with his wife Anne, Amalia (5) and Cecilia (3). We spent a delightful afternoon together, learned about him and their family, told them how their husband and father had moved me on my path from doctor to healer. We hugged, exchanged addresses, and then lost touch… until Amalia’s e-mail arrived, written in excellent English
“I don’t really know what to say but for some reason I had to contact you. I am the daughter of Holger Ernst the German juggler you wrote about in your book. I’ve just graduated high school and will go to the University soon, but I had a little time on my hands and finally got to read “Kindling Spirit”. It moved me to read about my father, makes me happy he that he had such an impact on you, and sad that I didn’t get to know him. I do remember the time we met at the restaurant because you said to Cecelia and me that we could order everything on the menu. Maybe we could speak when you come to Germany again”.
I wrote back congratulating her on her graduation and thanking her for reaching out to me, and that she lifted my spirit in these dark times. The likelihood of my getting to Germany was small because I was facing my own health issues but would love to talk to her so we could see the light in each other’s eyes when we talked about her father.
I thanked her for bringing me back from the depressing Trump narrative that escalates America’s divisiveness, and restored my faith that as a citizenry we can find a way to hear each other better, suspend our preconceptions and judgementalism, and building relationships that allow us to see in one another something that reminds us of our best selves. Amalia showed me a light at the end of my dark tunnel.
Walk in peace and beauty Relatives, I say this for all my Relations, Mi Takuye Oyasin