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Stories, Blessings, and Beginnings

Members of the national board and team stand on steps for a group photo.

Members of the L’Arche USA Board and National Team wish you a joyous, safe, and peaceful holiday season. The photo above depicts members of our national board and team posing on steps at a meeting this December.

Blessing the Story

You might think
this blessing lives
in the story
that you can see,
that it has curled up
in a comfortable spot
on the surface
of the telling.

But this blessing lives
in the story beneath
the story.
It lives in the story
inside the story.
In the spaces
between.
In the edges,
the margins,
the mysterious gaps,
the enticing and
fertile emptiness.

This blessing
makes its home
within the layers.
This blessing is
doorway and portal,
passage and path.
It is more ancient
than imagining and
makes itself ever new.

This blessing
is where the story
begins.

– Jan Richardson

Dear friends, 

My grandmother was a remarkable storyteller. Her childhood, her preferred story-telling subject, was oh so different from mine, a country and two world wars away. And yet, the sounds of violin, piano and singing were vibrant, the scent of pierogi, bigos and borscht palpable, and emotions vivid as I listened to her deep voice, her rolling “r”s revealing a hint of an accent.   

Stories are such a gift – both a window into the other and a mirror to the self – full of magic, truth and imagination. Stories are so intrinsic to our being that Elie Wiesel once asserted, “God made man because He loves stories.” 

L’Arche is blessed with a treasure of stories, a well of blessings, that are only made possible by your friendship and generosity.   

Walk with me through this year 2021 and witness the world you are bringing to life: Budding L’Arche communities growing the spirit of belonging in new neighborhoods and cities. Established L’Arche communities raising their voices in their commitment to advocacy and inclusion. L’Arche assistants expanding their sense of spirituality and cultivating new vocations. Core members at L’Arche building careers as independent artists. A L’Arche team creating a short film that is changing the narrative on down syndrome and disability. And the people of L’Arche building a global movement of solidarity through silliness, song, and creativity.  

My grandmother, who died when I was a teenager, never knew of L’Arche and probably could not have imagined the life of her granddaughter, living an ocean away.  And yet, she and L’Arche seem to meet somewhere in me, in my edges and margins, making a common home within my layers, fodder for my story, or rather the multiplicity of my own story. L’Arche itself is first and foremost an experience, a place of encounter. It is an experience of ourselves, of one another, and of all the spaces in between, creating rare, real, and authentic stories. 

If you receive this, friend and partner of L’Arche, you must like stories, like the ones that Jan Richardson evokes in her poem. You might have lived in a L’Arche home, recently or long ago. You might only tangentially witness L’Arche’s daily life. You might never have set foot in a L’Arche community. 

Whether your story with L’Arche began this year or many years ago, I am thankful you are here, intrigued or drawn in because of your own experiences, your own story of inclusion and belonging (or the quest for those), of friendship across difference (or the longing for it), or of community and faith (or the call to build it). 

“The blessing is where the story begins,” writes Jan Richardson. Blessing is prayer and ritual, it is presence to the moment where the story begins. This is particularly meaningful for those of us who anticipate the birth of Christ in this season of Advent. For me, it rings true beyond religious tradition.   

As the year comes to a close, I invite you to reflect on the story that you have lived, sensed, and experienced in 2021 (and beyond, if you wish). Fill your air with ups and downs, suspense and release, the surprise and the comfort of your own story. Listen closely to the voice of your life’s own remarkable storyteller: you. As you follow your story through doorways and portals, through passages and down your own path, take stock of the blessings you have been granted. These blessings are where your stories begin. 

Each of us is a living story – beautiful, complex, and unique. My grandmother was. I am. You, our friends, partners, and people of L’Arche, are.  

I wish you a light-filled holiday season and a year 2022 full of encounters, experiences, and stories—blessings and beginnings. 

With peace,

Tina Bovermann
National Leader / Executive Director
L’Arche USA

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