A Circle of Relationship

Mic Altena

Published 7 December 2020

We’ve been excited to celebrate 20 years of L’Arche Chicago! In preparation, I’ve had the joy of digging through some old photos and clippings from the past. The sheer breadth of individuals we have encountered throughout our story is inspiring. What brings me warmth and pride, as I scan through hundreds of photos and articles, is how consistently and broadly L’Arche has welcomed each person who entered this community. Together, the pictures and articles weave a consistent story of welcome, belonging, companionship, and meaning. L’Arche in Chicago has been, for over 20 years, a refuge for those of us looking for community – for relationship.

Of deep significance, the photos remind us of several friends who lived community until their last moments here on earth. Beloved members of the L’Arche Chicago community including core members, former assistants, supporters, and advocates – Laura, Julius, Dorothy, Martha, Gerry, Ronnie, Peg, Mike, and others – shared their gifts and presence in transformative ways. Each person radiated the joy of friendship and meaning, even when it was painful at times. Some of my most palpable memories have been with these long-time friends of L’Arche.

When I started with L’Arche as Community Leader, it was suggested that I share time with this group of founding and long-time friends. I will never forget my time with Peg during that first year. Peg had been in L’Arche for decades, always as a committed member, consistently turning down leadership opportunities to simply be in community. Peg was many things, an artist, a poet, a coach, but most of all she was driven about relationships. She longed to hear the authentic heart-cries of people around her. With almost giddy anticipation, she would enter conversations at restaurants, coffee shops, or even her own living room, longing for an authentic human encounter. I feel so fortunate to have been in that seat more than once.

Peg, and so many like her, form an invisible bond – a circle of relationship that creates a foundation on which we all stand in L’Arche Chicago. The many stories of relationship and authentic belonging form this circle, which you belong to as well. Thank you for contributing to this growing circle of relationship.