Welcoming Change

A reflection from Molly Tarantino.

Published 9 May 2024

Welcoming Change

I remember my first days in Angel House: Christianne giving me her business card, waking up at 8am to the sound of Anders winding his cuckoo clock outside my basement bedroom, trying to figure out what it meant to “just be in the house.” I remember the realization that I would have to learn how to cook most things from scratch instead of from a box. I remember an assistant holding out open hands to receive partial dentures without flinching.

Over the course of my time living in Angel House, I lived with 29 different people. A lot has changed since I first walked through the door: most of the old furniture has been replaced, several core members have come and gone, all of the assistants who welcomed me have moved on (except Evangeline who moved to the office). We started documenting medication administration digitally instead of on paper, we started welcoming live-out assistants, we made it through long afternoons of pandemic lockdown by making pillow forts and music videos and creme brulee. We’ve had to reconsider our founding story and who we are as a federation in light of new information about who Jean Vanier was.

Early on in my time as an assistant, I remember hearing the sentiment that when communities close themselves off to change, they die. It sounded true at that time and it even sounded easy to me because I was 22 and change meant adventure and excitement.

Seven years later I still think it’s true that we have to change if we want to survive. But what it means to stay open to that change – to open your arms in welcome when your heart hurts from a hundred goodbyes – that’s not quite the adventure I’d had in mind.

When I ache for friends who’ve left or the way things were, I think of the core members, especially those who have been in L’Arche for decades. How many times have they welcomed and bid farewell? I think about Davey, the first new core member that I welcomed to Angel House, and how humbling it was day in and day out to learn, from scratch, how to care for each other. I think about how hard it is now to imagine Angel House and my own life without Davey. I think about David’s honest sharing about how it takes time to settle into a place and make it your home.

As we prepare to open our fourth home, I am comforted by a few things that haven’t changed – the way the Angel House stairwell smells in summer, how Christianne tells me I wore her favorite shirt regardless of which shirt I’m wearing, and of course, the enduring care we have for each other.

May we hold and let go well through all the changes to come.

Molly, Anders, Mi-Sa, David, Fajar, and Christianne outside the 4th home.