Ellen Dumonceau

Dumonceau—Ellen Dumonceau, 77, in 2021 in Hawaii. Ellen attended the Windward Worship Group of Honolulu (Hawaii) Meeting regularly and was active in Honolulu Friends Meeting for Healing for several years. Here is a summary of her life, in her own words:

“After 14 years of living in Hawaii, it is still a pleasant shock to look out my window and see an eternal garden of brilliant-hued tropical flowers, a budding avocado tree, and in the distance a sliver of the Pacific Ocean. Much of my life, probably like most people’s, has been a surprise. I am an East Coast person who grew up in Manhattan, married a man I met at Columbia University, raised two children in Vermont, and then went to graduate school in Boston, Mass.

“My life as a child was in a family that culturally faced even further east to France and Belgium. When I was seven, my mother remarried a Belgian and we moved to Brussels. Two years later, when we moved back to New York, it was French culture that dominated my life. My parents spoke French more than English; French art hung on the walls; my stepfather, an emotionally stunted but intellectually and artistically gifted man, cooked wonderful French food and inspired in me a passion for French literature and philosophy, and cooking too.

“It was also a very secular home. My stepfather was a lapsed Catholic, and my mother was indifferent to anything that bordered on the metaphysical. As a young woman I saw myself as a sophisticated existentialist and my hero was Albert Camus.

“But there was also some part of me as I grew older that yearned for something more. Existentialism offers little comfort in dark times, and when I was 50 it was a very dark time in my life. I was living in Baltimore, Md., at the time and dealing with a failed relationship with a man I had loved greatly but had treated badly. Feeling desperate, I decided to go to Bali with a group called Continuum. (This was before Eat, Pray, Love came out, by the way.) Bali in 1994 was pristine and imbued with a sense of a sacred spirit in all of nature. We went to outdoor temples and meditated and luxuriated in the natural beauty of the island. There, for the first time, I felt the sacred, the interconnectedness of everything, and it transformed my life.

“I came back to Baltimore and a friend offered me a small stone cottage on his estate in Maryland while I tried to figure out what to do next. I just knew I needed a radical change. My next-door neighbor just happened to be this young woman from Hawaii who was wanting to go back home after 20 years on the mainland. Malia had just finished her PhD in molecular biology and was working at the Maryland Institute of Marine Biotechnology.

“So here I am today on another magical sacred island in the most stable relationship I’ve ever had—and with a woman, no less. It’s not what I ever planned or even dreamt of. But maybe that’s what’s so wonderful about life—when the Divine intervenes and makes the plans instead—and with a delicious sense of humor to boot.”

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