No boulders block the way and the words find their way to Source, to the sea from which her life emerged.
“Swimming in Stories: The River of my Life” begins with her parents’ stories, each immigrating before they knew each other to South Africa to escape the devastation of the World War II onslaught in their home countries. Rosanna’s German mother was half Jewish and lost her job in 1934 because of that. A kind aunt helped pay her passage to a new life. Rosanna’s father witnessed the threat of Hitler when he hitchhiked to the Berlin Olympic games and decided to seek his fortune in South Africa. Lucky for Rosanna and her two brothers their future parents met through a hiking club in the South African mountains. This adventurous couple then went back to Denmark when Rosanna was one year old. Thus began Rosanna’s journey to seeing the world on all its continents except for Antarctica.
Rosanna’s family left her father’s big family in Denmark for Canada in 1955 when she was 10. Rosanna uses her father’s journal to trace their trip by Ford panel truck across Canada because the parents wanted to be in British Columbia’s mountains. The book’s narrative is rich in these original sources of family writing about their adventures. When Rosanna went back from the wilds of BC to Denmark for a year of boarding school in Denmark at 16 so she could know her broader family on both sides and learn both Danish and German in the process, her parents kept her letters as they did when she went to university at 19 in Vancouver. These letters offer a great deal of self-reflection from her as she encounters people and places.
Through Rosanna’s journal entries and letters home we are immersed in the 60’s blossoming counter-culture in Vancouver and Rosanna’s early poetry. It was in Vancouver that she and her boyfriend encountered and joined Subud, got married, changed their names (from Sonya to Rosanna, from David to Lucas), quit university to experience life firsthand and found their way to their destinies. Rosanna’s pregnancy brought them home from hitchhiking around Europe to the burgeoning communal living of Vancouver’s young Subud members.
In 1986, with her three children quite grown, Rosanna became the chairperson of Susila Dharma Canada and remarks that she begins to see the world. I laughed out-loud reading this because she had already traveled in South Africa, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain and Canada and probably more.
Rosanna describes very clearly the purpose of Susila Dharma and its evolution as she worked with the board and member projects and guided the creation of Susila Dharma International Association as a separate not-for-profit. Her work with many competent board members enabled SDIA to grow to the international recognition it holds today in the NGO development world. And SDIA enables Subud members who receive to do social work to access funds from governments and foundations internationally. And yes, she traveled the world to visit Susila Dharma projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America and offer analysis, advice and communication to all the member national Susila Dharma organizations that govern SDIA.
The last chapters reveal her work running a consulting organization and her personal life as a mature woman now experiencing a serious debilitating illness, but her words show no weakness, just the prose and poetry of deep being. I know Rosanna well and was touched to find that reading her book was like being with her and having some South African rooibos tea while we talked. Reading her words nourished me with her insight, compassion, wisdom, and desire to be of service to all. I highly recommend her book. You can purchase it though her daughter’s website. It’s available for $10 as an e-book so no mailing cost for that. You will be enriched for having read it.