In her own words:

In 1951, I was exposed for the first time, to children with special needs. I was looking after a child, who soon after birth had suffered a serious attack of encephalitis. I became acquainted with her when she was four years old. She was extremely beautiful, but had an empty look in her eyes. She refused to eat and consequently was as thin as a beanstalk. Her main occupation during the day was tearing fuzz from wool or cloth, or tearing her hair out and shaking it around in her thin little hands. There was not a moment of peaceful quietness in her world, except when the Eurythmist came. Erna van Deventer was a powerful personality who was deeply imbued with the healing power of Eurythmy. When she guided the little girl in Eurythmy exercises, a certain calm would come over the child and she was able to stop her erratic movements. Not only was she able to achieve some peace during the therapist’s work, but the effects of the treatment lasted for hours afterward.

Erna van Deventer was a remarkable lady, who was among the first to study Eurythmy, after this new art of movement had been introduced to the world by Rudolf Steiner in 1912. As is obvious from the story above, Erna was not just a therapist, but a true healer. I have had the privilege of spending much time with her and learning much of her lifelong work and experience with Therapeutic Eurythmy. It was that initial experience in 1951, which made it clear to me that I had to study this magical thing called Eurythmy.

Besides what I was able to learn during my four years of Eurythmy training (1956 – 1960) which was aimed at the practice or performing the Art of Eurythmy, I have also had the good fortune to work closely with two Eurythmy therapists and a doctor, who I consider true healers.

Isabella de Jaager was also a great example to me. I remember her poignant statements: “Sparks need to fly between the ‘patient’ and the Eurythmist”. “Create an atmosphere, in which true healing through movement can take place”. I can still see her in my mind’s eye, working in an absolutely tangible way with the invisible life force.

The third person I was able to spend time with, was the famous eye specialist, Dr. Ilse Knauer, in Freiburg, Germany; who had on staff two Eurythmy therapists who worked exclusively with her patients.

Because of these three wonderful role models and of course the incalculably valuable example of Rudolf Steiner himself, I have been fortunate to teach and practice Eurythmy in three different languages, on three different continents, with diverse people in all walks of life.

About the Center for the Art of Living

This concept was birthed in South Africa in 1985, at the height of ‘Apartheid,’ with the intention of creating a center in Johannesburg where black and white people could meet. When I returned to the United States in 1994, the concept found it’s American identity as the Center for the Art of Living.

The energy of the Center is now going in the direction of including diversity in the entire Waldorf movement in the U.S., both within the schools and the teacher training centers. I find it very exciting that some of the young people who our Center has sponsored, are now becoming ambassadors of goodwill. These are children from the most extremely impoverished regions, who are now able to travel worldwide, to represent the value of the Waldorf Education process to the U.S. and to UNESCO.

I am pleased to find more and more people willing to view life as an art. I was especially amazed, years ago, to find a quote about the essence of art:

“Art creates a certain breathing space for the Spirit to enter”.

Maya Angelou, in Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, has a way of expressing her ideas about life:

“Living Life as an Art requires a readiness to forgive. Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. The sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat Life as an Art”.

In 1849 Thoreau said: “to influence the quality of the day is the highest art.” Rudolf Steiner suggested that an artistic form be given to the most varied areas of life, that we develop an art of living.