What is L'Arche? Belonging


A central component to our mission in L’Arche is to create a place of belonging for people, with and without intellectual disabilities.  Through genuine friendships and the support of an intentional community, we are all empowered to discover our giftedness and grow through our brokenness. Assistants (direct support professionals), core members (adults with intellectual disabilities), volunteers and friends find a place of belonging in L’Arche. The following reflection from Mic, our Community Leader, illuminates a brief moment that embodies our much bigger reality--we discover we belong when we love and are loved in community.

It had been a few months since I was last able to join my friends at Peace House for dinner, so I was especially eager to come. Of course we’d seen lots of each other elsewhere. Community Nights, birthdays, and celebrations, but eating together, at home, is extra special for me. There is something about the ordinariness of being together, about the simple, easy conversation that lingers around food and laughter. It’s nourishing to me.

As we sat together, and our plates were being filled with pork roast, potatoes, and asparagus, I noticed that Jean (one of the founding core members) had left her seat. She had gone to Noah’s (a core member who has been in community since 2012) plate to help him cut his roast. I watched as she carefully, and silently, cut each piece until there was nothing but small bite sized pieces left on the plate. She returned to her seat and began eating herself. A simple gesture, but one thick with care and love. To see Noah’s plate, to know the roast wasn’t going to work and then to gently take the time to slice it-even with the aroma of her own food ready to eat-is striking!

In the simplicity of living in community, the seeds of transformation are taking root in Jean. The same seeds that are at work in me. Being at that dinner table changes me. I’m reminded not to take myself too seriously, to take more time for conversations (silly ones too!), and am reminded of the beauty each person holds. I often leave our L’Arche homes with a certain “full” feeling. Full of the joy of relationship.

Mic Altena