by Dorothy Copps
In his book Life of the Beloved Henri Nouwen writes, “A blessing goes beyond the distinction between admiration or condemnation, between good deeds or evil deeds. A blessing touches the original goodness of the other and calls forth his or her Belovedness. Being beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.”
During my 16 years of serving in the L’Arche community in Washington, D.C., I explored my belovedness that incited transformation on a daily basis.
As probably many of us are, I was in the habit of doubting my God-given value as a person and also doubting my God-given gifts. While I was in L’Arche, I grew in my trust of how God made me and learned more and more of my value as a creation of God.
How did this happen? First of all, I was loved and encouraged and given opportunity to serve in ways that were new experiences for me. One epic experience was coordinating the Eastern Regional Gathering in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Six communities numbering about 200 people come together for four terrific days of fun, worship, partying, and sharing. This wasn’t in my repertoire at all, and I felt trusted with this huge responsibility.
John Cook, who was my supervisor for eight years while I was a community leader in D.C., was a great encouragement to me. Now, John knew my gift of light-heartedness and having fun. He also knew the shadow side of my gift, which is presenting myself in such a way that others might not take me seriously when the situation calls for it.
He shared this observation he had of my transformation: I was leading a meeting for leaders from the six communities in the Eastern Region. My purpose was to create enthusiasm so that the participants would volunteer for various tasks in order to prepare for the gathering. He observed at this meeting that I squashed my shadow side and I quote him, “Your chin was slightly up and a serious effort look was in your eye, an image of a person to be taken seriously.” Yeah! I felt beloved, and I received help for this huge task.
And, yes, I still struggle with this balance, but I have become more comfortable with the discipline of being serious with joy in order to fulfill a purpose.
Of, course, part of the transformation which Henri Nouwen emphasizes is a step toward blessing others and recognizing their belovedness and gifts not matter who they are or what their disability is. In addition to growing in accepting my own belovedness, I have grown in being able to bless and encourage others.
Thank you L’Arche for an amazing experience and for giving me a beloved nest in which to grow.
Dorothy Copps first came to L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C. as a volunteer. Over time, she took on a variety of roles, from assistant to home-life leader and community leader for two of the community’s four homes. In addition to planning the Eastern Regional Gathering, one of her top favorite memories was accompanying the late Eugene Sampson on an Elvis cruise. In 2013, she and her husband Tom retired to Tucson, Arizona, to enjoy the climate and be closer to two of their three adult children.