I worked with Elaine when I was 18, during a gap year between high school and college. This was while I was a resident student at Pendle Hill. In selecting a spiritual nurturer, I was told to follow any urgings I felt. When I first met Elaine, I didn’t feel an immediate connection, but I felt I would be challenged, a feeling that made me nervous, but also told me she would be the right person to walk beside on this section of my spiritual journey. In many ways, I was challenged–to be honest with myself, to learn more about my experiences and my beliefs around them–but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Together with Elaine, we created a safe space, a warm space. As I was exploring my independence from home, Elaine was a new nurturing figure.
While I was one of the youngest students in the community, I never felt too young or immature with Elaine. I still felt that I had a lot to learn, that I was at the beginning of a long journey, and Elaine was accepting of exactly where I was. At the same time, she seemed to have so much confidence in my potential. If I needed a nurturing mother-figure away from home, Elaine was that, but she was also a peer. And her love of play is something that stays with me years later, keeping me light even in the face of difficulty and challenge.