Memorials to Our Dear Departed Friends and Colleagues from EGS

We asked EGS colleagues who knew Brigitte Wanzenried, Jack Weller, Yaacov Naor and Steen Lykke, to send stories and memories that would keep them all alive in our hearts. Thanks to all who contributed. These memories remind us of the diverse and vital international community which we have formed at EGS over the years. Let us continue in this important work of bringing the arts and creativity to the world.

Steve Levine and Margo Knill

From Stephen K. Levine, Canada

Brigitte– Our hearts were grieved to hear of your passing. We loved you very much, and shall always treasure the memories of our times together in Lucarelli, in Winterthur, in Sass Fee, in Martha's Vineyard and elsewhere. I remember your sweet smile and your openness to play and community. Your luminous art remains with us–we have four small paintings of the light by you. That light is yours and will remain forever.

Jack– Landsman! Fellow seeker! I remember our walks in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Such joy in being together, even as we aged and slowed down! And our dinners at your apartment in San Francisco–we were so tired after teaching at CIIS, but you and Mary always received us graciously. The essay you wrote for the CREATE Journal, “Planting Your Feet Firmly in Nothingness,” stays with me. I am trying to plant my feet firmly in your absence. It is a hard task but a necessary one. I hear your soft voice urging me on in my ear and in my soul.

Yaacov– So many memories–in Toronto, in Saas Fee, in Jerusalem, at the Spring Symposia all over the world. Your impish friendship always gave me joy. I remember the time you were giving a psychodrama workshop next to the clown workshop that Ellen and I were teaching. At a most tender moment in clown, suddenly the door burst open and your students came in, half-naked with paint all over their bodies. They grabbed me and took me into the hallway, taking off my pants! Fortunately, they left my underpants on… I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or overjoyed at your spontaneity–I think I was both at the same time1 And yet you went head (and body) first into the work with Germans and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis–your courage to take risks and your enjoyment of life! What more do we need?

Steen– Your music sounds and resounds in my ear, and your friendship in my heart. Accordion man! How you brought our community together wherever you went! I think of you today whenever Ellen plays the accordion and whenever I want to smile with the memory of your warmth. May your music make the angels dance with joy!

From Judith Alalu and José Miguel Calderon, Lima, Peru

We remember the first sessions of drama therapy at the Spring Symposium in Cortona, Italy, with Yaacov. The painting and sensitivity of Brigitte and the conversations about Buddhism and EXA with Jack. They are still alive in our classes and practice of Expressive Arts in Peru.

From Gopika Dahanukar, India

Brigitte– I would like to share the poem I wrote that day at the workshop “Nevertheless” that you led together with Margo Fuchs, along with a continuation today for you from me:

Don't hold your breath on a windy day
rather breathe
breathe into the sound
the sound of the rustling leaves
in the backyard of your mind
Its music will lift you.

Brigitte, you stood there like a tree
your leaves transparent
through you one could see
a rare orange sky
that sang the song of the sun.

I gently place a lamp for you down a river, a ritual in India, symbolising you as a flame of love being carried to the Mother ocean.

From Heather Dawson, Vancouver, Canada

Brigitte– I remember early mornings and shared breakfasts, I remember the stories of the everyday, I remember a soft and crooked smile and much laughter, I remember birds that flew across paper, I remember a humble deep knowing, I remember the many goodbyes.

From Alexander Eggenhofer, Austria

Brigitte– I remember the time 15 years ago when I did the class in painting at ISSA (formerly InArtes) and I met you with your clear mind and big heart for us students and for the arts. I also remember the time when you and Peter were coming to my own program in Vienna, to teach the people there. You are in our minds and still also here.

From Melinda Meyer

Jack– Thank you for the Expressive Arts work you developed at CIIS. A program full of heart and thought. Wise man who gave me a feeling that I knew something special too. I feel your presence!

Steen– My CAGS friend and co-teacher in Norway and at the Spring Symposium. Your spiritual practice became integrated in your EXA coaching work and many students wanted to study with you to get that extra dimension. Your soul was deeply rooted in your work!

Yaacov– My CAGS and Intermodal psychodrama friend. Yaacov, your contribution and loyalty to reconciliation and conflict- transformation work with the arts will stay within the field forever!

Brigitte– In Berlin we shared stories and you, and your art of being will be with me forever!

From Keshet Zur, Ireland

Brigitte– I was fortunate to meet you in Berlin at the last Spring Symposium.

I lost a very close friend in 2018, and so I'm having a close encounter with grief. The day of her death, I and another 3 friends started planning her exhibition which we opened last November.

Her death was a beginning of a new life for her art work.

Grief is a journey –and most certainly not a linear one!
Brigitte, I looked forward to welcoming you to Ireland this spring. When I close my eyes, I can see you smile, moving slowly with grace. You touched my heart at your workshop and my heart will remember your presence. We will remember you this spring at the symposium. Peter a big hug to you and my condolences.

From Helene Havsteen, Denmark

Steen– For me and for the Danish Institute, your passing away is a huge loss. In memory of Steen:
While I button my jacket
I hope all living beings
Will keep their hearts warm
And don´t lose themselves

This poem indicates the attitude you had for life. Caring and with a unique ability to shine every person´s gold. You were mentioned as one of the country´s best group facilitators here in Denmark.

We miss you and now after a year, we are gratefully trying to build up the Danish institute in your spirit.

From Varvara Sidorova, Russia

Jack– I met you only once in 2004, in San Francisco. I remember us sitting in your office at CIIS. We had to sit rather close to each other because the room was so small. You gave your blessing for our Moscow EXA program. I still think of you as a guardian angel of our Moscow EXA program. You gave me your short article on the family of EXA therapists, which gave me then and still does the feeling of being a member of that family. The meeting meant a lot to me. Even though I didn’t meet you again, I have always had a sense of connection. Gratitude, love, and peace!

Brigitte– I remember this spring shiny sun in this room in Berlin and your orange hair shining in this sun. I still have an art object made during your and Margo's class on my worktable. In an onion church of my heart, I still have the touch of your soul, timeless and endless....I put a candle for your soul in one of the Orthodox churches in Moscow. Gratitude, love, and peace!

From Hjørdis Mair, Switzerland

Steen– I met Steen first time 2002 in Sass Fee, teaching a group of Palestine, Israeli and European students. His capacity to bring each person’s inner crystal into the light was striking. He demonstrated so wonderfully the capability to build a group and strengthen the group’s capacity despite the diverse, challenging backgrounds. He had a unique way of inviting the diversity of human beings, of culture and life stories, and he understood the art to make our shared humanity visible. His talent was creating spaces for listening, understanding, forgivingness and peace, which he so skillfully and joyfully accompanied with his soulful accordion music. It left a deep lasting impression and inspires my work with groups today.

Brigitte– Brigitte’s clear spirit opens up my awareness for wonder in everyday life, encouraged me to live in the very moment, to invite clarity, disturbance, storm, beauty and silence - in the memory of past, in the moment of the now, and the hope of future.

Her teaching sparks reams of fires in our students’ learning, which will enlighten a bright way for so many of us. Her loving soul was holding- and still will - the heart of our Institute.

From Graça (Maria Da Graça Santos), Portugal

Steen– During these past ten years, your depth, softness and true presence in the Encounter with the Other deeply marked my inner being. The connection
between this human subtlety and the work through the expressive arts always will reminds me of your words, "between earth and heaven…”

Yaacov– I will always remember your solid humanity and acumen ... Your work on (different) reconciliations. And a smile appears when I remember the ‘inner bells’ that sounded in one of your (strong) workshops here in Lisbon.

From Barbara Hielscher: Germany

Brigitte– I am deeply affected by your integrity and your gentle and artistic personality. You would immerse yourself for weeks, months or even longer in the themes you longed to explore: birds, hundreds of the tiniest black birds drawn on a huge white fabric; numerous variations in blue, grey and white of clouds and the sky; a whole series of paintings in blue, black and orange inspired by the Flösserlied, a song about a river… Brigitte, I miss you dearly and will keep your soul in my heart.

From Markus Scott-Alexander, Canada

Steen– Remembering your big voice while you played the accordion when we were CAGS students together in 1996: the joy of community held by your unleashed love.

Yaacov– Remembering your visit to New York to work with our students and your staying at the house with your lovely son: such a tender time.

Jack– Remembering a moment in California when you were speaking about the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures and thinking “Jack’s doing it. He’s putting together profound inward attention and the expressive arts. Wonderful”.

Brigitte– Remembering such fine connecting at the restaurant in Berlin. Together, living what we cared about....truly meeting.

From Ellen Levine, Canada

Jack– Goodbye, dear friend. You were a sweet, loving and accepting man. You worked hard to establish ways in which students could learn and practice expressive arts therapy. You started the program at CIIS and helped to form IEATA. You were incredibly devoted to your students and often went out of your way to help them.

Neither a practicing artist or a therapist, you loved beauty and the arts and you sensed the power of our field to make change in the world. You were a builder of structures for learning and doing. This was your creative act in the world.

Yaacov– Shalom, Chaver (friend). You were a fierce presence in our field. You insisted upon bringing psychodrama into our orbit even though some of us questioned whether it belonged. You introduced the idea of an intermodal psychodrama practice and embodied this, using music and other arts to open up the traditional psychodrama frame. You took risks and disrupted the status quo. You brought Palestinian and Israeli students to EGS and, as a core leader of one of those mixed groups, I experienced some of the biggest challenges of my teaching career. The learning from those summers stays with me. You devoted yourself to bringing people together who would never normally share the same space—children of Holocaust survivors and children of former Nazis, Israelis and Palestinians. You were a strong and courageous man.

Brigitte– Auf Wiedersehen, Liebe Freundin. You were a friend and colleague, fellow artist and teacher. Your paintings stay with me---especially the ones you exhibited at EGS a few summers ago. Clouds of birds swarming and swooping in the sky. Black and white masses of movement. You were a strong character who always told me what you thought--accompanied by a knowing laugh. You were direct and straightforward, and you were kind and generous. We stayed with you, Peter and Simona in Lucarelli and in Winterthur. You came to visit us in Martha’s Vineyard and participated in the opening of my new studio in 1995. Many years of connection. I will miss you.

Steen– Goodbye, friend. You encouraged me to start playing the accordion. You told me stories of how you learned to play---from old men in the back alleys of Copenhagen. You said: “Just play. Play what you love.” I still play (badly) but you helped me get over my fear. You had a keen intelligence and a love of teaching.

From Sally Atkins, USA

Brigitte– You said, ”These images are the river that carries me. This is the song that is my inspiration. My destiny is to arrive at the sea.”

Jack– The art of the beautiful
Spirit in everything
You hold us all in your big love

Steen– You saw the souls of ourselves and our organizations. In your still and powerful way, you helped us know how to bless each day and each other.

From Kirsi Lybek, Finland

Yaacov– You were hungry for life, people, food, drumming, stamps, driving… You were a collector like no other; your generosity exceeded all. You came with gifts, smiles and big hugs ready to enjoy. You always asked me to organize a party: everyone can come! You were a master of joining people together.

Once we cooked in my kitchen just for the three of us. You wanted to make a mixed salad and I gave you a bowl and ingredients. - “Larger bowl and more!” you said. I obeyed, and after a minute: “ Larger bowl and more ingredients!” Finally you finished with a salad for fifteen!

Sometimes you also got tired. You took naps when you could. In Cortona, I found you sleeping behind the bush in the Statue Garden, like one of the contemporary statues. making puffs and whistles.

It was easy to love you as a warm, generous friend. Many women did. – Yaacov and his harem! said Paolo.

Brigitte– Have you ever heard anyone giving a speech by barking like a dog? You gave a powerful, exciting and enthusiastic speech in our CAGS group in 2005. As a large brown dog, you convinced us with your deep voice. Without any human words, there was no doubt of your message.

Sister painter, you had such clarity and precision in your works, crystal clearness and mystic in the same painting. You taught how to make something big and meaningful out of simple, ordinary materials.

The smaller you got with your illness, the bigger you became with your love and warmth.

Steen– With your spiritual guidance, you were always ready to welcome people to the search with you. Come here, you said, with the sound of the accordion, to the path.

From Boaz and Vered Zur, Ireland/Israel

Steen– The sound of your music and the deep talk about the arts and wellbeing will stay in our hearts. You recognise that our heart beats connected in a special way. We are sorry that we didn’t manage to find more time to share our passions. R.I.P

Yaacov– So many memories from your workshop that will always stay with us. The words, “Keep with the process, don’t stop” will remain forever with your endless energy. “Slow down and get lost, find the happiness within you...” Many phrases that you used become part of our journey.

We received a teddy bear from you, one that you considered that will need more attention and care. We found him a nice warm family that invited him to join. We moved away from Israel but Face Book found you and we followed your work over the last years. R.I.P

Jack– Our walk and talk in the woods in Saas Fee was a wonderful experience. The sound of the wind, the birds and the river just joined our conversation and enriched my soul with so much respect to Mother Earth. I keep the article that you gave me about the woodcarving and we managed to create our wooden spoon, inspired from your stories. R.I.P

Brigitte– We will truly remember you as part of our creative journey. The workshop in Tenerife connected us, to the love and care for nature. We are very sorry to miss you in Ireland. But the blue Sea with the Song of the soft wind will touch us and shape us. We will hold the Longing for Belonging together. R.I.P

We will always remember our creative friends with tears, joy, laughter and with blessing for healing and happiness.

From Anna Fenech, Malta

Brigitte– Your story is written
By your beauty-full Being
Words, spoken in colours on canvas
Your stillness, gentle and holding
Captivating eyes, windows to your soul
Always touched by your presence
You held me with your gaze
I hold you in my heart
You are the story we read
Over and over
Still new pages written
In beauty we see you
In beauty we meet you
In beauty there’s you
Over and over

From Elizabeth McKim, USA

Jack– Thank you for your vast kindness, your gentleness, your mischievous humor, and your discerning intelligence.

When I was teaching in your city, you brought me to Candlestick Park where we talked baseball and the Red Sox.We talked poetry, and Zen meditation and Bali enchantment .We talked of dear friends of the work we love and the ongoing madness of war and violence. Later on , you took me to a restaurant where we were waited on and served with care and style by ex-cons who owned the cooperative.

I was so glad I got a chance to teach at CIIS, and to experience you in your great city. I miss you already as they say in Bali, even though your presence is here with me

Yaacov– Laughing and tender.

You were in my very first class at Lesley in 1974: a small band of pioneers and pilgrims on the path of poetry. Later on, you escorted Paolo and Margo and me to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem: you stood so firm in your grief, your clear vision and your willingness to share the hardest history. Your work continues everywhere out and out in circles into the human world.

For me your poetry teacher, I remember your voice, your hands, your poems, your handwriting, your playfulness with words and especially sounds, your laughter, your tears and the passion of your deep heart... I carry these words with me that you gave to me after that first Lesley class:

I have this dream
We are 60 years old
We have this poetry class again
We are 60 years old
And we cry...

Margo Fuchs and Paolo Knill, Switzerland

Jack– We won’t forget your ‘Buddhist smile,’ a knowing smile, a smile that said, Don’t try to unlock the door, it is all wide open. ‘Let’s go for the (nodding – yes) – smiles’ to keep the sun in place.

We remember the path of the Buddhist monk you shared with us.

Surprisingly, the pilgrimage ended not in the cloister, however, in the market place - a spiritual path where the ordinary and the extraordinary are intertwined.

Yaacov– We remember your strong and steady drumming, insisting, until the community caught fire and moved. And we won’t forget our visits to Israel. You showed us the dead sea, and the Sea Kinneret below sea level. As it is described in the scriptures, at 5pm a strong wind started and set the calm lake into an apocalyptic turmoil.

We visited a Kibbutz and the Wailing Wall, and noisy markets in Jerusalem with its temples and churches, the Jewish temple next to a Christian orthodox church. And of course, we were always treated with good food, enjoying the olives, and humus with bread.

Steen– You dared to start in Denmark an institute to train in expressive arts, spirituality and coaching. Your accordion still resonates in our ears. Melodies that stirred a longing for the ‘big open world.’

Brigitte Wanzenried

Do not grow weary rather hold out your hand gently to the miracleas if to a bird

Hilde Domin–
You always would say yes, let’s do it.Your curiosity and excitement a step ahead of us.Your hand open for the miracle, open for a surprise.Brigitte, we keep your smile and your eagerness in our hearts – may they guide our path. May they give us the courage to explore to the fullest until the surprise emerges.We will never forget you, dearest Swiss friend. We promise to take care of our field, the expressive arts.