Tag Archives: All Souls’ Day

Carla Drift – Years of Dawn


My first communion was a big feast. By my baptism I was already initiated in the Church when I was a few days old. Some boys in our village are registered to the civic guard at birth: they remain member their whole life. Of my baptism I can not remember anything. However, I still wear with me my Christian name with the baptismal names of my godmother and godfather as remembrance.

Later I understood that baptism is the only sacrament that is recognised by the entire Christianity [1]. The children’s baptism is given to children when they are a few days old in order to let the children be in God’s grace as soon as possible. This is important in times of a huge infant mortality. Maybe it is also a relic of the patriarchal Roman law, where the life of a new-born is determined by recognition by the father. In the reformed church near the end of the second world war in 1944, there was a schism about the question whether a child will be in God’s grace through baptism or whether baptism is a vocation to live as God’s child [2]. Our village was not concerned with this kind of questions; our village lived within the rich Catholic life with all its habits and defects.

[3]

At the beginning of the primary school we were prepared for our first communion. We learned the first principles of the Catholic faith. In the middle of the spring I did my first communion. I went dressed in a beautiful white dress in a procession to the Church. The first hosting sticked to my palate; this was my only special reminder of this High mass. Then we had a big family celebration. The entire family of my mother and my father were present. I was overwhelmed with gifts. My parents were proud that their first daughter was included in the community and in the Church. I felt myself in the center of attention.

[4]

With my faith I played half hide and seek. Invisibly the guardian angel was always present, I foresaw if something might go wrong. I made sure that it did end well. But at my right shoulder, I did not feel the guardian angel. It seemed to me unwise to show my doubt. Nobody did that. Nobody in our village doubted on the next breath, except if one was very old or if there was anyone in the family dying and afterwards died. Then we went to Church to pray for the soul of the deceased and for themselves. I have thought a few years that in my mother’s village in Belgium the largest family was named Late; they always talked about this name. Around my sixth year I found out that the family Late lived half in Heaven and half on the cemetery: later I would also go to this family if I would live neatly. In our village you had to behave very bad to stay in purgatory for a long time. The older women prayed a lot and all families faithfully attended the year’s services and the cemetery on All Souls Day. For hell and purgatory, I was not afraid.

When I was eight years, I did the Holy confirmation [5]. The Holy Spirit would help me to strengthen my faith. The Bishop said at my confirmation: “Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti” (Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit). Out of boredom I had learned some Latin from the Missal of my father during many long Masses. The gift of the Holy Spirit did not help me with my faith. I saw increasing evidence that the father God was created to the likeness of his believers and not the other way around as the Catholic Church reminded us. Around that time the “rich Catholic Life” started to diminish in South Limburg; we only went to church at important Christian days.

Our master in the fifth and sixth class had finished an internship at De Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap – The Workshop Childrens’ Communion – of Kees and Betty Boeke in Bilthoven. He was since one year at our school and I have learned a lot during these two years. He encouraged me to read together with my father many books from the library and we made many essays and presentation on what we have read. My father and I have read Kees Boeke’s “We in the universe, a universe inourself” [6] from cover to cover. My father and I bought a microscope and a telescope. Together we read books on astronomy and microscopy. For school we made at least four essays and presentations on these topics.

[7]

We did the same for world history and for other religions. We read books on Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

At the national final test in primary school, I did not play hide and seek. The master proudly told that our class had an excellent outcome. The entire class was well above the national average. I had only one error on a specific question we could not know, because we did not live in Holland. The master ensured that everyone entered an appropriate further education. I went to the gymnasium in the city.


[1] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doop_(sacrament)

[2] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrijmaking

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Child_baptism_with_water.jpg

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Bundesarchiv_Bild_194-0552-30,_Prozession_der_Kommunionkinder.jpg

[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vormsel

[6] See: Boeke, Kees, Wij in het heelal, een heelal in ons – Twee tochten: door macrokosmos en microkosmos. Amsterdam: J.M. Meulenhoff, 1959. This book has been published as Cosmic Viewthe Universe in 40 Jumps in English

[7] Source image: http://www.vendian.org/mncharity/cosmicview/ . The English version of this book can be read by this hyperlink.

Man Leben – on the way 3


Geschichte, mit denen man leben muβ

History, with which one must live.

You continue the brief report of your life with the arrival in Dachau after a pilgrimage of two months:

“In September 1983 I left the farm of my godmother in South Limburg. She had recommended me this pilgrimage in order to honour the wish of my aunt who had asked me after my 21st birthday to carry out the traditional Jewish remembrance of the dead for my parents, when I would be able to do so. My mother died in 1944 and was buried in Dachau. During All Souls’ Day on November 2, I hoped to visit the grave of my mother according to the Catholic habit in South Limburg.

On my journey by foot I got to know the wind [1] and the moon [2] and I started to identify the wind and the moon with the “He” and “his” in the Kaddish prayer [3]. Hereby I could say this prayer every day – for a full year – for my father, mother, aunt and Godfather.

As wanderer, but a luxurious wanderer, I arrived in Dachau at the end of October 1983; my health was still excellent and my equipment comfortably. Also with the early nightfall at the end of the afternoon I learned to life by making a small fire in a small used tin.

A day later – on a stormy day – I visited the camp. The images and impressions of these camps are well known. Sources report that the administration in the camps at Dachau recorded the intake of 206.000 prisoners and 31,951 deaths mainly caused by malnutrition, exhaustion and diseases [4]. In comparison, on the war cemeteries in Omaha Beach in Normandy, France  and in Henri Chapelle in the Ardennes, Belgium, 7000 and 8000 soldiers were buried: bottomless grief.

During my visit to the camp I noticed what my aunt could not mention and wished not to mention. I also understood why she added to her wish so explicitly: “When you are able to do so”. Later, much later, I could put into words my feeling during the visit.

Inside and outside

Stilled and turned to stone

The Wind played Her song.

At the fall of dusk I left the camp. Outside I sang the aria from Cantata 82 “Ich habe genug” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach:

Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen,
Fallet sanft und selig zu!
Welt, ich bleibe nicht mehr hier,
Hab ich doch kein Teil an dir,
Das der Seele könnte taugen.
Hier muss ich das Elend bauen,
Aber dort, dort werd ich schauen
Süßen Friede, stille Ruh.

This Cantata was written by Johann Sebastian Bach for February 2nd or “Purificatio Mariae” [5] – the purification of Maria – 40 days after Christmas. Appropriate: I sang the cleaning of and for my mother, her memory be a blessing to our world and for the hereafter [6]. For me, these two worlds of Her have always been one and the same.

The next day I came back to see if my mother’s grave was well taken care for. I had a round pebble with me: this pebble I put on her grave.

[7]

Then I walked along the Catholic Chapel, the Christian Church of Reconciliation and the Jewish Memorial. For me, none of these rooms were inviting to enter.

[8]

[9]

[10]

[11]

In Ulm, I had seen the study model for the continuum that includes the entire universe in all its simplicity and limitation. Inside and outside change continuously. At the same time this reconciliation room gives shelter, and breathable includes everything from the universe in security and responsiveness. My mother, her memory be a blessing for here and for there.

[12]

On November 2 – All Souls Day – in the afternoon I visited my mother’s grave. The stone was gone. I could understand this, otherwise there might arise a mountain of stones. At her grave, I have said the prayer of Kaddish.

Near the fall of darkness I moved on. My feelings during this departure I read many years later in the Zen koan: “Each of you have Your own light. If you want to see, then it is not possible. The darkness is dark, dark. Now, what is your/Your light? …… The answer is: the room of the universe, the road.” [13]

Country walkers are not welcome in Dachau. I moved on. Winter began. It took 10 years before I visited the grave of my father in 1993. First I lived in monasteries for several years”, you say.

The following post is about your monastery years.


[1] See post “Man Leben – op weg” van 14 oktober 2011.

[2] See post “Man Leben – op weg 2” van 17 oktober 2011.

[3] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaddish

[4] Sources give different numbers. The numbers in this post come from: http://www.dachau.nl/het_kamp/historisch/index.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presentation_of_Jesus_at_the_Temple

[6] See also: Wieseltier, Leon, Kaddisj. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1999, p. 11

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dachau-015.jpg

[8] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KZ_Dachau_Todesangst-Christi-Kapelle.jpg

[9] Source image: Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:16JUN2005_Munich_054.jpg

[10] Source image: http://hu.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=F%C3%A1jl:2500_-_KZ_Dachau_-_Protestant_Monument.JPG&filetimestamp=20071012014216

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:16JUN2005_Munich_064.jpg

[12] Model for the continuous design by Ulrich Burandt as study during the workshop of Tomas Maldonado at the Ulm School of Design. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_School_of_Design

[13] Free rendering of Yunmen’s light – case 86 from the Hekiganroku. See also: Aitken, Robert, The Mind of Clover – Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. New York: North Point Press, 2000⁸. pag. 62. Remark: According to the sources the answer to this koan is: “Storeroom/kitchenstorage, gate/gateway”. In this post “Storeroom” is rendered as “the room of the Universe” referring to “Deine Seele ist die ganze Welt” or “Your soul is the whole world” – see also: Hesse Herman, Siddhartha. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag: 1989 p. 10. In Sanskrit “Gate” means amongst others “going, and the locativus for the verb to go”.