Happy Holidays from our team at L’Arche USA! We hope the end of the year brings you favor, warmth and good company. Please take a moment to enjoy this heartfelt message from our National Leader, Tina.
“It wouldn’t be the same if I weren’t here,” Chris Friedman – a core member in one of our communities in the U.S. – says confidently. “True that,” I think to myself, “it sure wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“I am and so I have an impact on this world”, he seems to say. Maybe he even says, “I am, and so I am good. I am good for this world.” I don’t want to guess on Chris’ behalf. What I do know after 20 years with L’Arche, here in the U.S. and elsewhere, is that this is a very articulate summary of what L’Arche is trying to give the world.
Don’t get me wrong; L’Arche is by no means perfect. But at its best, L’Arche gives the world safe spaces to those who might need a home to grow confidently into their unique body and being. L’Arche gives amplifiers to those who might need support to make their voices heard. L’Arche gives friendships to those who might need camaraderie to believe that they are worthy of love.
Chris has received many gifts during his life with L’Arche – he would tell you if you met him. Yet, Chris is also one of many who allows L’Arche’s gifts to multiply. For when I hear Chris’ statement, I—as L’Arche USA’s Executive Director, the woman who owns a home and raises two children, the person who studied economics and international politics, this me who has traveled the world—think to myself “Wow, I wish I had the guts to speak that confidently about myself.” I am given a gift. Thank you, Chris.
I doubt that I will ever have the inner certainty to proclaim, both feet on the ground, voice steady, with a smile on my face, “I belong here. I am. The world is better for it.” And yet, I want to, just like Chris does. Unapologetically. Like you do, I assume. Like your brother, sister, children, parents, neighbors do; like we all do.
I might not make it to Chris’ bold certainty. Yet, as I lean into the quiet stillness of this winter, I resonate with Cole Arthur Riley who reminds us that “darkness (…) has the unique capacity to bear the divine”. In that darkness, where the gentle voice of the divine speaks, I carry the knowing that the quest to respect and value those who are different is only valid if I seek to respect and value myself.
I wish all of you and your loved ones happy holidays. I wish all of you quiet moments of darkness to ponder Chris’ bold statement and make it your own: this world wouldn’t be the same if you weren’t here. I wish all of you the opportunity to spread Chris’ message to those around you, your children who will come visit for the holidays, your parents who will await your homecoming, your neighbors with whom you will celebrate the New Year, the stranger who smiles at you at the supermarket. Let them know that “the world wouldn’t be the same, if they weren’t here.”
With gratitude for each one of you,
National Leader / Executive Director
Give inclusion. Give kindness. Give belonging.