Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Writing as a means of discovery: Clara’s spiritual journey
Ernst Lehrs, in his autobiography Gelebte Erwartung, tells us that his mother became a dedicated anthroposophist and brought comfort to other people living in the ghetto because of her outlook on life. He also tells us that early on she found the beliefs of the anthroposophists difficult to understand. She believed that her husband only lived on in her memory and not that he was somewhere else now that he had died. Lehrs doesn’t tell us exactly how she came to change her ideas.
However, he does relate an extraordinary thing that happened to her. She was hurrying to the school because she was late for a lecture when she heard a scream from above and a child dropped into her arms. She rushed back to the house with the child. Then she “woke up” to find herself still standing on the street, her arms held open and apparently talking to herself as some other people on the street gave her some funny looks. This all happened on a day when a child had died because of heat-stroke.
Lehrs offers us no connection between this incident and Clara’s spiritual journey. I saw none either. True, it could make her think that there are some supernatural occurrences but knowing Clara she was just as likely to think that she was also suffering from the heat. However, as I wrote this scene I realised it was a turning point for Clara. As she joins her son in the dead boy’s vigil, she realises that the soul is still in the body and concludes that she had been returning the soul that had escaped too soon. It is a part of a belief system related to anthroposophy that the soul stays in or near the body for three days.
It’s interesting to look at my own process here. It wasn’t a conscious decision to make this the turning point for Clara. Yet, actually, Ernst Lehrs implies it is though doesn’t explain why. I remember a discussion before my mother-in-law’s funeral (she was Renate, whom we meet in this story) about the Christian Community’s belief concerning the time of departure of the soul. Whatever the cause, even for a rational person like Clara, this vision / hallucination must have been pretty startling. I uncovered the enormity of it for Clara as I wrote.