In the new movie “Grace and Grit,” featured at the Sedona International Film Festival, filmmaker Sebastian Siegel and spirituality guru and former U.S. presidential candidate Marianne Williamson visited Sedona to discuss how deeply focused people can become when death is staring them down.
The movie is an adaptation from Ken Wilber’s book with the same name. His wife, Treya Killam Wilber, was diagnosed with cancer 10 days after they were married. Their honeymoon was spent in the hospital.
Sebastian said he wanted to capture the “urgency to love” that spoke to him so loudly in the book. “We all have to confront our mortality at some juncture or other. And I think any great love story, whether it’s Titanic or Grace and Grit or Love Story or Romeo and Juliet, the confrontation of that mortality and the recognition that we only have an instant left sometimes gives us the courage to appreciate life more deeply.”
Marianne has worked with many people who have been diagnosed with life-challenging illnesses. “One of the things I’ve seen repeatedly is that in the first five minutes, you just drop so many layers of seemingly meaningless preoccupations and things get very real and very exquisitely noble and intelligent very quickly. One of the things I thought about Ken and Treya, on one hand, the tragedy of the story is that she died; on the other hand, the profound love of the story was brought to the fore because she was dying.”
Mena Suvari plays Treya in the film, but Sebastian chose to let the audience hear Treya in her own words. “Because I can no longer ignore death,” she said, “I pay more attention to life.”
Sebastian wants audiences to “experience” the story of a passionate, romantic, selfless, courageous and transcendent love. He recognizes this “as a reference point for what’s possible in love, for what’s possible for us, how we can transform and become more for each other and through each other.”
In “A Course in Miracles,” Marianne Williamson discusses love and fear. In stressful times, it’s so easy to go the way of fear, but that’s exactly when Marianne suggests we escort fear right out the door. “As we change our thoughts, we can change our world. In the realm of thought, there are two main categories: thoughts of love and thoughts of fear. Every single moment, we choose between the two. If I think with love, then I am more likely to behave lovingly and to attract love from others,” she writes.
What Marianne has been telling us for years and what Sebastian demonstrates in the movie is that we have great capacity to be more present and give of ourselves more completely to things that matter.
COVID-19 has shown us this as well. Life is precious, time is precious. If we live aware of the beautiful gift of time and life, which comes with an expiration date, we may find its “best used by” date is now. QCBN
By Bonnie Stevens, QCBN
Bonnie Stevens is a public relations consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.