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I Choose Joy

Multicolored paper hands surround and reach toward a paper globe.
Laura is the Community Leader and Executive Director of L’Arche North Carolina. She wrote this piece for L’Arche USA’s newsletter, Hope Signs.

There’s a song by King & Country that names the challenge of experiencing daily news stories.

“Lately, I’ve been reading, watching the nightly news
Don’t seem to find the rhythm, just wanna sing the blues
Feels like a song that never… stops.”

The song opens with sharing the reality of, well, reality. Our news has been filled with numerous awful events happening locally and globally that make my heart ache and my head hurt. From the tragedy at Surfside in Florida, to the floods in Germany, to the rise and concern of the Delta variant and COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad. There are many concerns that fill up my prayer journal. It is enough to make anyone sing the blues.

And yet, just as quickly as the song indicates the weight and concern that is seems like the bad news is never going to stop, the music shifts to a hope-filled chorus:

“The time has come to make a choice
And I choose joy
Let it move you, let it move you, let it move you
Yeah, I choose joy
Let it move you, let it move, let it move you”

This song is an important reminder to find “hope signs” — to name those things in our daily lives that we are grateful for, that bring us joy, and that show us love.

For me, one of the many ways I have experienced hope since beginning to work for and serve L’Arche North Carolina earlier this year is through collaborative virtual events with other L’Arche communities. As an emerging community, we are currently working to establish the first L’Arche home in North Carolina. Our goal is to do so by next July! However, in the meantime, it has been a sign of hope for L’Arche NC to be in the same space (virtually) with friends from other states. Through these events, we’ve met core members, assistants, and other friends from L’Arche homes and are constantly inspired to continue striving toward our mission. We’ve joined L’Arche Long Island and L’Arche Frederick for “CommUNITY Karaoke,” we’ve partnered with L’Arche Fredericton in Canada for “Accessible Yoga,” and we’ve gathered with L’Arche Atlanta for “Y’all Belong Here: an inclusive sacred space.”

Truly, one of the greatest sources of hope for me has been this monthly inclusive prayer space. It’s only half an hour; yet, this 30 minutes fills my heart with peace and brings a huge smile to my face. Friends, both new and old, and with various worldviews, gather for a time of reflection. The gathering is planned around a certain theme or idea that unites us from our various backgrounds (peace, love, gratitude, etc.). Throughout the session, we explore the monthly topic through song, individual reflection, and small group discussions about how we are impacted or motivated to work towards a better world. From Core Members sharing their gift of music to board members reading holy texts or quotes about peace, each month is different. Yet, one thing is constant: gathering together. This togetherness, even though we are in different locations (last month we actually had one person join from Canada and another from Hawaii!) gives me hope.

At the end of our time on Zoom, we close with sharing joys and concerns together as a community. We often simultaneously hold things that make us glad and things that cause us to be sad. In sharing, we are reminded that as we face expected or unanticipated challenges, we are not alone. We all belong here. This gives me hope, and it is why today and everyday I choose joy.

Visit www.larchenc.org/events to join us for “Y’all Belong Here: an inclusive sacred space” on the third Wednesday of every month at 2 pm EDT. The next gathering will be on August 18th with a theme of gratitude. 

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