The Spirit of L’Arche reveals the gifts that everyone, regardless of ability or disability, has to offer our community. In the following story, Hector’s gift promotes unity and peace in his community.
This story first appeared in the 2016 Lenten Reflection Series and was submitted by our sister community in L’Arche Belgium. Names have been changed.
In one of our houses there is a young man with Down’s syndrome called Cyril. Cyril has a remarkable capacity for cheering people up and being attentive to everyone around him.
But he often hides these abilities behind certain blockages from which he struggles to emerge. Nevertheless, year by year we have noticed his progress, however slight, in terms of taking part in community life and entering into adulthood.
If Cyril is busy playing in his room, the job of helping him leave his game to come down and eat with the rest of the group, or go on an outing, tries everyone’s patience sorely. We have to call him countless times before he finally comes down to join us. (Cyril’s room is on the 2nd floor.)
It may be good for our health to run upstairs 10 times, but sometimes our patience wears thin, and we have to make a huge effort not to lose our temper, especially if we have an outing planned and need to arrive somewhere on time!
In the same house, there is also a tall, young man called Hector. One of Hector’s great passions is travelling alone by bus or tram, or on the underground. If the underground is overcrowded, he waits and lets several trains go by. What he loves is being independent, and being surrounded by lots of people on the move, some of them on their way to work, some just experiencing city life.
Hector has a way with Cyril and is admirably loyal to him. If there are no assistants available, it is Hector who goes up to Cyril’s room to tell him he should come and eat. After a short discussion and a chat Hector says to him, “I know you can do it, mate!”, then comes back down.
Ten minutes later, he goes back up again, has another discussion, and reaffirms his confidence in Cyril before coming back down again, smiling.
Eventually, Cyril arrives and, despite being really grumpy and sometimes pausing in the entrance to the dining room, keeps moving forwards, step by little step. As soon as Hector sees Cyril, he says, “Come on, mate, have a seat, come and join us! Look how tasty this food is!” Or sometimes he just says, “We’ve missed you!”
Where on earth does Hector find the patience and the “passion” to get Cyril moving, and how does he manage to be so genuinely attentive and friendly towards him?
Hector reveals to something of the nature of God, who deals with us too by transforming His anger into patience!
Download the full resource, which includes a reflection on the Scripture reading, reflection questions, activities, and prayers.
As you can see, the Spirit of L’Arche is not only changing the lives of people with disabilities, but is making the world a better place for everyone! Be a part of this change by sharing the #SpiritOfLArche on social by tagging your friends and thanking them for the gifts they offer regardless of ability or disability. For example, perhaps your friend offers a gift of brotherhood or sisterhood, passionate friendship, calming advice, or gives the best hugs!