Sitting in a suburban Paraparaumu lounge I am amazed at the wonderful variety of God’s children.
In L’Arche young and old, some Christian and some not, people with disabilities and those with PhDs all live in community together.
This is the L’Arche (The Ark) community an international group whose identity statement is:
We are people with and without intellectual disabilities sharing life in community.
Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together.
We celebrate the unique value of every person and recognise our need of one another.
L’Arche grew out of the Catholic Church in France and is now an international organisation, but I am their pastoral minister. It is a truly ecumenical task and I love it.
People come from all around the world to live and work with us for six months or more.
Last month I sat with the assistants at their formation time and asked who God/the sacred/the divine is for them.
It was a most holy time as we recalled our own sacred history and listened with great warmth and openness to each other. We discovered more of the creativity of our God.
Night prayer is one of the cornerstones of our life together when we read, pray and sing together. The core members take great delight in leading this.
Stephen always makes sure we pray for the armed forces and those who are hungry, many prayers for our families and those assistants who have returned home overseas.
Foot washing is central to our community life. Last Easter, Peter, one of our core members who lives with Down’s syndrome, gently washed the feet of one of our assistants, a woman who had had a really hard time. I have never seen anyone do this more tenderly and as he prayed for her he softly stroked her face. None of us sophisticated leaders could have done that, we just don’t do that in public but he did it so unselfconsciously. Some of us were in tears. She said it was one of the most wonderful things that had ever happened to her.