Rappahannock County, Virginia
This is the story that I told a mother and her three daughters at the Afterschool University in Colorado Springs, causing me to burst into tears. The first person who was killed by Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech in 2007 was my former art student, 19 year-old Emily Hilscher. I had taught her numerous summers beginning when she was eight. Everything she touched was rooted in nature, whimsey and affection. She was studying to be a vet. After the massacre at Virginia Tech, I flew to Emily’s funeral in Rappahannock County, VA, a close-knit community of 7000, where I had lived for 27 years. The high school’s highway sign read “We love you, Emily”. That’s where the funeral was held – behind the school, outside in the track field. At the end of the ceremony, white doves were released against the fresh blue April sky. In the height of painful sorrow at this senseless loss, not one word was said against Cho. Those who attended the funeral focused on the fact that he was a severely damaged person.
When I returned to California I had a dream about Cho. He was eight – the same age as Emily was when I first met her. He was furious. He kicked me in the stomach, twisted both of my nipples and sent a sickly yellow green light from his eyes to my eyes. As the light entered my eyes, I felt my body change. I looked into a mirror and saw that I had become Asian. I was aware that even though I had a different body, my soul had remained the same. It was the clearest experience I ever had of my soul as a distinct entity. Cho, looked at me with tears running down his enraged face and said, “I had a soul and no one saw it.”
The philospher, Rudolph Steiner, said that terrible blood letting of the 20th century was a result of the fact that people couldn’t express their souls. Now in the 21st century, facing the challenges of our over-populated, over-stimulating and dangerous times, I pray that we see the fundamental importance of each human being’s inner sacredness.