Tuesday, January 30, 2018

L'Arche time

I haven't said much about L'Arche for quite some time, but I'm still happily spending small chunks of my life with the community.

On the weekend, we had our annual Solidarity Bowl-a-thon to raise funds for our sister L'Arche communities in the developing world. It's a great cause and it's always a lot of fun. Lizzy and Cassandra were both delighted to beat my score!

On Monday morning I hung out with my friends at Day Program as I often do, having coffee, socializing, enjoying our little prayer time, and participating in the scheduled activities. Mondays are a good day for having one-on-one time with core members, watering plants with Lucy*, dancing with Leanne, coloring with Anthony, or setting puzzles with Cassandra.

But my L'Arche time on Monday afternoon was extra special. The entire community was called together for a meeting, with the assistants (persons without disabilities) in one room and our 22 core members (persons with disabilities) across the hall. Carmel, a long-time community member, three seminarians who have been staying in three of our homes for their practicum in the month of January, and myself enjoyed a rare opportunity to be with our core member friends without the assistants (who have an energy all their own). Though we didn't really have much of a plan for the afternoon, one soon evolved.

We started by singing different core members' favourite songs. Lark loves Home on the Range, and Joe led us in a rousing version of It's a Long Way to Tipperary, while Keith was hoping we'd sing Taking Care of Business (I'm afraid we didn't manage that one). I can't begin to remember all the songs we sang and drummed and shook shakers to. It turned out that Jonathan, one of the seminarians, knew a slew of camp songs with some hilarious actions!

When our voices needed a break, we all made and signed a get-well card for a community member who just had surgery and a birthday card for one of the assistants. We talked about life in community and named each core member along a community timeline -- who came to L'Arche Edmonton at the very beginning, and who came most recently. We had a wonderful conversation about the ups and downs of living in community, and we closed our time together with prayer. When the assistants' meeting finally ended, we all enjoyed a chicken supper together.

I can't help but feel that we were on holy ground for those few hours that we were together yesterday. It's rare to have just the core members meet together like that, and while there were a few shorter tempers and some moments when we wondered how we'd keep a hungry group happy, for the most part, they led the gentle pace of the afternoon just by their interactions.

Talking, singing and telling stories with our core members, and being part of their sharing only underlined the goodness of L'Arche. They truly are the heart of our community, our teachers, and our society could take many lessons from them about what's really important -- friendship, humility, and generosity of spirit. They carry a gentleness and wisdom from which the world needs to learn!

*I use pseudonyms for the names of my L'Arche friends.

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