Impact is a theme in our community this year and who knows about the impact of L’Arche better than people who have been part of our community? So we reached out to current and former community members to hear about their stories and relationships, and how L’Arche GWDC has impacted them. This is the tenth in a series of interviews with current and former community members of L’Arche GWDC titled: #LarcheImpact.
When were you at L’Arche GWDC and what were your role(s)?
I was a part of L’Arche GWDC from August 2011 until September 2016. I was a live-in assistant at Ontario House, and the Home Life Leader there. I was also the project manager as we began our relationship with Georgetown University.
What brought you to L’Arche?
By the time I was a junior in college, I knew that I wanted to work with people with disabilities. The summer before my senior year, I had an internship (not at L’Arche) with adults with profound disabilities. TAs a part of the class associated with the internship, I had to read Adam by Henri Nouwen and Becoming Human by Jean Vanier. I was completely drawn to the theology that they presented–and decided that if this whole “L’Arche thing” was real, then I needed to be a part of it! I came to visit the community in DC and discovered that it was real and beautiful.
What’s one of your favorite memories at L’Arche?
Oh! This is so hard, after five years of life in the community, there are so many to choose from! I will say, there are some moments that are just etched on my heart. I can close my eyes, and be in the car with Crisely and Eileen on the way to a retreat we were leading, singing “Turn Down for What” at the top of lungs, and dancing and laughing for a 3 minute and 36 second period of pure joy. I think of this one, particular dinner, where everyone was so present and so joyful–that culminated in the most beautiful, heartfelt, and connected-to-God version of “Hey Jude” that you have ever heard. And when I need to feel happy, I think about sitting in the hotel room with Mike in the midst of our 1100-mile-presidential-home road trip, and laughing together about what well-suited travel companions (and friends) we are due to our shared love of coffee, dessert, and vacationing well 🙂 (I could go on forever, but those are three of favorites.)
What encouragement/advice do you have for people who are considering L’Arche?
Do it. Have an open heart. You need to go in knowing that it will be ridiculously joyful and ridiculously hard and all the things in between, all the time. But it is worth it. There is so much wisdom and love present in L’Arche. It is truly a gift to get to be a part of it.
How did you grow in your time at L’Arche?
I don’t think I have a full sense yet of all the ways that I have grown through L’Arche (I don’t know if I ever really will.) But I if I were to try to summarize them, I would say this… 1. I learned the importance of just being with others. My inclination is to do things and fix things and plan things. Over and over again, I was called to slow down and just be together with another person. I realized that most of the time, that is all that I am desiring from another person as well. There is a lot of pain and suffering that people carry in community and a lot of joy. I think I grew in my ability to share in whatever my housemates and community members were carrying simply through walking next to them. 2. I was taught, many, many times, the importance of forgiving and being forgiven. We are all going to hurt others and be hurt by others. Out of necessity, I grew in my ability to more freely ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. 3. I grew in my understanding that almost everything is made better by having a dance party in the kitchen.
How does your time at L’Arche impact you today?
Well. I am a part of L’Arche Chicago now. I am continuing to learn and grow in L’Arche, and connect with the broader L’Arche family. My heart was truly formed by L’Arche GWDC and for that I am so very, very grateful. I was also inspired and encouraged by the leaders of L’Arche GWDC to pursue a master’s in nonprofit administration, which I am in the midst of right now and loving.
Do you have a favorite picture of your time at L’Arche you could share with us?
We invite you to share your own responses to the “#LarcheImpact” questions. Your responses can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are actively seeking new live-in and live-out assistants. Apply today!