It’s been two months since my sister’s passing. Then, two days ago, the phone rang with the sad news that my teacher and mentor from college died on April 15th.
Elaine Rapp was my all time favorite teacher. She was a Gestalt therapist, a large stone sculptor, and one of the founding minds behind Pratt Institute’s Art Therapy Program. I met Elaine at Pratt.
Dynamic and intense, when she looked at me, I felt her absolute attention. I would sign up for whatever Elaine was teaching. Her classes were a blend of Gestalt art therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, and some improvisational theater. I gathered up her wisdom like a thirsty sponge. Her words live on in me to this day.
“What are you aware of, right now?” Elaine would say to bring focus back into the body.
“You can’t have a yes, without a no.” One needed the ability to be able to refuse, as well as affirm.
In speaking or writing, the word “but” negates everything that came before. Think about it. It’s true.
Once, when a student began to cry over some remembered sadness, another participant rushed over to hush the sobbing woman. Elaine firmly told the gal to stop, and return to her seat. Elaine said, “Don’t take away her tears. She needs them.” It was a powerful lesson for all of us to witness.
I kept in contact with Elaine till the end. I stayed in touch with cards and letters. Her failing health prevented her from writing back, yet I kept writing to her, just the same.
Elaine Rapp was a force, “a flame-kindler.” My life was transformed for knowing her.
Now, it’s my turn to send a condolence card to Elaine’s family.
I can tell you first hand how much the simple gesture of sending a card means to someone grieving. It’s like a tangible statement that people are thinking about you.
I’ve put my condolence card collection on a nifty mobile. It hangs in my kitchen near my chair keeping me good company.