The other day I had the joy of being asked, “What has been one of your favorite moments in L’Arche?” This question prompted me to walk down a very happy memory lane. I found myself flooded with many snapshots of moments from the last seven years.
I found myself sharing about a particular dinner at my L’Arche house in Washington, DC. There were easily fifteen of us sitting very close to each other around the table, with the lights out and the candles lit, singing “Hey Jude” at the tops of our voices as after dinner prayer. Without a whole lot of effort, I can hear voices of two of my favorite humans, one with intellectual disabilities and one without, leading the “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nahs”. I don’t know what hymn has ever sounded quite so holy to me.
So many other moments also fill my heart. I go back to the time when I looked around the packed living room of Peace House at my first Community Night here in L’Arche Chicago, and was overwhelmed by the universality of the mission of L’Arche. I find myself back, sipping McDonald’s coffee with my housemate Michael during our 1,100 mile road trip (visiting presidential and vice-presidential homes) where I truly recognized that this 70-something-year-old man with intellectual disabilities is one of my best friends. I flash to my hot-pink-sparkly-heart-themed L’Arche birthday party, a whole night focused on celebrating the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve (a trait I have not always viewed as a gift). My heart goes to the recent moment when Noah slide out of his chair to sit on the ground and wash the feet of his housemate, Rue, during our foot washing liturgy on Holy Thursday, and I am overcome by the tenderness and intentionality and difficulty that often accompanies washing each other’s feet.
In each of these joyful moments (and so many, many others) I experienced belonging. I am a part of something big and beautiful and messy, where each person’s gifts are celebrated. And I know my stories are not unique. So many people who have encountered L’Arche share hundreds of stories like mine–stories of feeling truly at home.
L’Arche International founder writes, “It is not simply a question of becoming responsible for others and being committed to the; it is also allowing them to carry and love us, and entering into a relationship of interdependence and into a covenant.”
What a gift to be carried and loved.