Hearing from the Homes – Part 2

Jeremy Chia

Published 12 May 2020

While you are likely as emotionally tired as we are about keeping up with COVID-19 news, I wonder if you have also been as inspired as we have been by the kindness, generosity and resourcefulness of friends, family and fellow humans around you?

The following updates, written by assistants in each home, give you a window into how each home is staying engaged.

KC Weathers from Peace House:

”Peace House, despite not always being peaceful, has continued to thrive through the month of April. We have been staying sane through lots of artwork, lots of music, and lots of phone calls and video chats. One of the positives that has stemmed from being quarantined is that many of us, core members and assistants alike, are actually connecting more often with the people who are dear to us, despite being in isolation. This has been a beautiful thing to see in our community and to experience personally and it has been an immensely effective way to stave off cabin fever.

We have also had some wonderful celebrations this month. First we celebrated Sedar and Passover with a Jewish core member. This was my first Sedar and Passover celebration and was a very meaningful and informative experience for me. Then all three homes gathered together virtually for our annual foot washing ceremony to commemorate and imitate Jesus’ example of service to each other, even (especially) in the most menial of tasks. We gathered in a circle and each person washed the feet of the person next to them. For me, this is one of the most meaningful traditions that we have at L’Arche Chicago. It captures for me the essence of daily life in the home; each person helping the people they are with in whatever way that they can, assistant and core member alike. This was followed by our Easter Sunday celebration. We attended our church services virtually this year but that didn’t seem to put too much of a damper on anyone’s spirits and we then gathered as a house and had a scrumptious Easter dinner. And finally we celebrated my birthday with deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s and ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins.

We have continued to be blessed by friends with home cooked meals and gift cards that have allowed us to take a break from cooking three meals a day and order out now and again. We are exceedingly thankful to everyone for their donations and their prayers and look forward to seeing you all in person again soon!”

Ellie Rizzo from Friendship House:

”Friendship House has relatively settled into a daily rhythm with Sheltering in Place. Arts of Life (day program for artists) has opened an online studio, giving Tim joy as he reconnects with his friends and community there. Elbert has also been getting in on the art action, painting canvases and generously giving them as gifts to long time friends of the community. The alternating rain and sunny weather has been perfect for Ryan to plant the gardens and watch as leafy greens, radishes, and tomatoes sprout up. Hopefully our baby bunny squatter won’t get to them! While staying in can yield cabin fever and thin ice even for the most established community, everyone has enjoyed walks, love ride drives, and silent time sitting on the porch. Chris has especially appreciated the lack of traffic while driving past the lakefront or O’Hare to watch planes.

We are grateful for the endless stream of support from neighbors and friends of the community; we are able to stay home, healthy, and safe due to meal donations and grocery deliveries, as well as video chats with all those we miss. We have been inspired to pass the love on through cooking meals for our neighbors as well. And Friendship House is definitely looking forward to the warmth that May brings, as well as welcoming a new assistant!”

Molly Townsend from Angel House:

”It’s the eighth week of quarantine, or something like that, and time feels like an egg white–slippery and viscous and messy and hard to hold onto. In Angel House, everyone is healthy, which is a relief and source of gratitude every day, especially as the weeks spent at home add up and restlessness seeps in alongside some warmer weather. Our days follow a simple routine that is constantly colored by the tensions we hold as we attempt to find some semblance of health and balance in the midst of the pandemic. We want to eat healthy and we also want junky comfort food. We want to stay active and occupied and sometimes it’s hard to find motivation. There are days when filling the hand soap dispenser feels like an achievement. We are thankful every day for our health, our beautiful house, good food on the table, and friendships in and beyond our home, among many other things, and at the same time we feel sad and frustrated about all of the things we can’t do right now. I imagine lots of folks are in the same boat.

That said, there are also highlights shining through the gloom of the general situation. The following are a few from Angel House:

  • We have a new housemate moving in! Ellie from Friendship House is joining us on Austin Boulevard and we are so happy for her arrival.
  • Warm weather has coaxed us out onto our back deck for some breakfast (and coffee) in the fresh air.
  • We’ve celebrated Emma’s and David’s birthdays!
  • One of our coping strategies continues to be breaking into dance which never fails to lift my spirits.

Many thanks to all who have sent us donations, letters, meals, and warm thoughts. I’m tired of all the cheesy messages about being in this together, but there is a lot of truth in that cliché.”