Grason Poling, a L’Arche assistant in Atlanta, GA, wrote this story for L’Arche Atlanta’s 2019 Gratitude Report. You can read the entire report and more about the impact of L’Arche Atlanta here. Keep reading for Grason’s insightful and reflective look into daily life.
Rhythms of Belonging – Grason Poling
We wake up and start our routines with foggy eyes and murmuring to ourselves. It is mostly silent except for doorknobs creaking and feet shuffling on the floor. John sits at the end of his bed and says to me through the stupor, “Good morning.” He sits on his bed, savoring the slow drift from sleep. He pauses in this transition before entering the day, knowing it will clip steadily along until it’s spent. John exhales and pulls himself up, purposefully heading into the common space.
Nearing the front room, he greets Terry, who sits straight-backed and cross-legged, meditating or possibly sleeping in the deep-cushioned chair. John hollers a greeting into the kitchen while Corbin makes a pot of coffee. John’s words are missed or misheard, meshed behind the coffee grinder’s mechanical whir. Patrick sets himself a place at the table and waits for four toaster oven beeps, signaling there’s peanut butter to be spread. John takes his usual seat with a cup of coffee and a plate of eggs.
Today, every day, the table holds our first-glance experiences of ourselves and each other. It serves as a setting for talk and eating, for fuel and centering, a place where we process our lives together. We bring our unceremonious encounters of joy and gratitude along with our honest anxieties and small irritations to the table and to each other. All are welcome to this table where our individual and unique rhythms intersect, and our unity is born anew each day.
John is one of the longest-standing members of L’Arche Atlanta’s daily life, and one of the first to encourage these sorts of conversations, exemplifying what it means to reflect and invite reflection from others. He finds room for growth, actively reimagining what it looks like to live meaningfully with the people he’s committed to. The day ahead will hold any number of phone calls with friends, brainstorming sessions over hot chocolate, and leading the community in evening songs of gratitude. In all of this, he fosters a place of belonging, intrinsically knowing that the beauty of community exists in the blend of our unique and shared rhythms.
When breakfast concludes, Patrick and Terry head out to either work or exercise. Corbin’s routine includes anything from bagpipe practice to cooking with friends. A little later, John’s on his way to make calls at the L’Arche office, or to volunteer, spending his time sorting through thrift store donation troves. These individual and communal rhythms fill each of our days; we flow with them and come back together around the dinner table. We discuss what we’ve experienced, then head to our own spaces to rest, until we find ourselves in the next day again.
Thank you for sharing the beauty of daily life at L’Arche, Grason!
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