In Honor of Your Birthday

Dr. Traute Lafrenz-Page turned 102 on May 3, 2021, in South Carolina.
Thoughts by Peter Selg, from DAS GOETHEANUM 19. 2021

     She was born in 1919 and has lived through the entire 20th century, side by side with Hans Scholl, close to the abyss. She has had truly great teachers – Erna Stahl, Professor Kurt Huber, Rudolf Steiner. If the People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof) hadn’t been destroyed by bombs on February 3, 1945, she would never have reached American shores. She would not have met Vernon Page, nor opened a rural medical practice in a remote area, nor led “Esperanza” in Chicago, a day care center for 100 children with special needs, the poorest of the poor among them. Traute in a white smock, Dr. Page, giving massages and eurythmy therapy, prescribing medicines.

She was a long-time member of the American Vorstand, too. “You know, in Germany that is something I would never have done.”  Born in Hamburg, she considered herself a native of that city all her life, though her mother was Austrian. Helmut and Loki Schmidt were among her schoolmates. She knows a thing or two about inner freedom, fair judgments, and independent thinking. And she kept returning to Europe, bringing the wide horizons of her unparalleled cultural and educational experience with her, was a regular visitor in the home of Inge Scholl, a friend of the entire family’s, and of Erna Stahl’s, as well.

In 1953, with her two older children, she spent a year at Wiesneck, furthering her education, while Vernon was serving in the medical corps during the Korean War. In 1960 she came to Arlesheim, with four children this time, to spend a year at “Sonnenhof” gaining additional experience in special education and eurythmy therapy. As she was attending the Mystery Dramas at the Goetheanum together with Julie Wallerstein, Julie said to her, “You and I, we sat ‘before’ the temple back then, cooking soup.” They both laughed aloud over that.

      Without parallel, to this day: Traute’s intellect, her sense of humor, her grasp of reality, her presence of mind; her ability to tackle any task. Her accuracy and tolerance in judging others, her inner strength, decisiveness, gentleness. She does not care to be bowed down to. The congratulatory message sent by the German Bundestag [Parliament] didn’t impress her, either.

     So here, instead, is a birthday poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, (1924). It will stand her scrutiny.

Peter Selg (English by Christiane Marks)

Palm of the Hand (Handinneres, 1924)

Palm of the hand, hand’s interior, sole now no longer walking
on anything but feeling. Which remains turned upward,
receiving in its mirror
celestial pathways, which themselves
are walking;
has learned to walk on water
when dipping into it;
which walks on wells as
transformer of all pathways;
imprints other hands
which create landscapes out of
journeys and arrives along with them,
fills them with future.

— Rainer Maria Rilke
English by Christiane Marks


  1. Gramma Concept on September 27, 2021 at 4:22 am

    Thank you for your way of revealing…

  2. Irene Marie Grace on September 27, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Such an apt poem to encapsulate this special life. Please also give us the Rilke original in the language Rudolf Steiner spoke! Always grateful for the difficult work of the translator. When I was a “broke as a joke” Waldorf Institute student in Southfield,MI in the ‘80s I remember sleeping in Traute’s therapy tub @ Esperanza for free in order to attend conferences in Chicago. That’s also who she is in my limited experience, giving whatever she has to “serve the greater good.

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