Hunter Ross, a student from Duke Divinity School, recently returned to North Carolina after spending ten weeks living at one of our homes in Adams Morgan. While he was with us, Hunter coordinated respite care activities for our assistants, and participated in community life. Below is the letter he wrote to Euclid House, sharing reflections of his time with us, and some of the gifts he experienced at L’Arche.
Shared with community on 8/5/16
These past ten weeks at L’Arche have been, for me, a sign of hope. And that is exactly what L’Arche is. I have loved participating in the life of a home that is full of so many people who are all so uniquely different from each other. Yet, while we are all so different, there is a beautiful thread of common love and respect for each other that is truly authentic. I can tell that the love our community members have for each other is authentic because it has never been conditional. There have been really difficult days, frustrating days, fun days, and happy days and every day this community persists in recognizing that our lives are better because we are together. In all honesty, it is because I have seen genuine anger, frustration, and sadness in this community that I am able to truly witness and believe that joy always outlasts sadness and light always outshines darkness. Other communities do not get to witness that as clearly and tangibly. Even for me, a person entrenched in a life of faith, the power of joyful community has been so new for me. Life is different here; it is richer here although it is still normal life.
I have created so many wonderful memories with all of you and I am very thankful that we have had regular and scheduled opportunities to reflect on those memories together before the past causes them to fade. I think this is L’Arche’s greatest gift: a life of routine that takes time to vocalize the gifts and wonderful memories of its members on a regular basis. I love how sharing good memories and gifts are the business of the dinner table. I love how I have always had the dinner table and the couches in the evening to be a home, where I know the guys will always be and I am always welcome.
I have learned that it is difficult to speak of each other’s gifts. But that is exactly the practice that grows our hearts in love. It keeps us from living in a world of competition, where we feel we are never good enough, we feel as if we must do everything on our own, and we allow most of the world’s beauty to go unnoticed. Gifts must be spoken.
People in this community have told me of many gifts of my own that I have either heard for the first time or only grown to believe for the first time. I can’t say how much that means to me. I will be returning to Duke as a more whole and joyful person and I know now that there will be a place where I belong after I graduate. Truly, it has been many years since I have been this happy (if ever) and I definitely hope to return to L’Arche more permanently in a couple of years. For now, and until then, I hope that this space remains a space of celebrating each other’s gifts and our happy memories. I hope that my time here and these few words have helped you all to see ways that L’Arche is a place where joy always outlasts sadness and where our lives are better because we are together because that is what L’Arche has been for me.
Note: Hunter’s letter has been edited to remove his naming of specific gifts that were meant to be shared to and for particular individuals at Euclid House.