L’Arche: A Constant, Gentle Force

Grace Cerny

Published 16 December 2021

When I think about the impact of L’Arche, I feel very privileged and honored to say that I have personally felt the long term impact first hand. L’Arche has been a constant, gentle force in my life, shaping my adulthood and who I strive to be. I became familiar with L’Arche seven years ago during undergraduate study through a campus organization. For a time, I acted as the liaison between the university and the L’Arche Clinton community. Fast forward to graduate school and I am living back in Chicagoland. I was blessed with the opportunity to once again volunteer, this time with L’Arche Chicago. I transitioned from student, to volunteer, to direct support professional in the community all within a year’s time. I was able to be a part of the L’Arche Chicago community in a variety of capacities as I was studying to become an occupational therapist. Not only has my experiences at L’Arche shaped my personal journey, it also now shapes my professional lens. The L’Arche Chicago community has allowed me to make connections on a deeper level. We live in a society that is fast paced, productivity-driven, and in many cases, superficial. The L’Arche community is a safe haven, protected by connection, togetherness, love, and gentleness. A breath of fresh air. As my time in community increased, I started noticing subtle, yet significant, changes in my everyday life. I am happier. I am peaceful. I am filled with love that I can share with others. Sharing time in community has forced me to step back and reflect on what is truly important in life. Meaningful connections within everyday moments. These everyday moments together are where we share our humanness. Cooking meals together, praying together, walking together, resting together, sharing life together – these moments of connection and interdependence is what brings life meaning. The L’Arche community has taught me the art of slowing down and sharing gratitude for each individual moment. I have been able to translate these lessons outside the community within my other personal and professional relationships. As an occupational therapist, I have a desire to support individuals seek and find their life’s meaning, within simple everyday activities. I do this with an understanding that individuality and independence are only a piece of the puzzle; interdependence, connection, and community is what makes us whole. I have the desire, now more than ever, to stay connected to the L’Arche Chicago community. L’Arche has and will continue to make lasting impacts on individuals like myself; but has the power to make societal change, if we can slow down and listen.