Stasya Erickson is a Manager of Community Support and Learning for L’Arche USA. Among her many roles and responsibilities, she recently acted as one of the regular hosts for the L’Arche Café. Discover more about this experience from her touching reflection below.
During these socially distanced days of quarantine, I’ve had the opportunity to help host the virtual L’Arche Café, a daily online gathering where members of L’Arche communities across the country connected and shared time with one another. Hosting wasn’t too strenuous – it simply required an internet connection, a Zoom invite, and a readiness to welcome people across the digital divide.
Although there were a few regulars, we never quite knew who would show up to the café. The different combinations of participants kept each gathering surprising and joyful. Some of the time was used to check in, often with questions about the weather: “Is it still snowing in Syracuse?” “How is the rain in Portland?” And much of the time was shared getting to know each other more deeply: “How did you discover L’Arche?” “What business would you launch if you could start one?” The conversations flowed to any number of topics, but listening and sharing always helped root us in our time with one another. As I reflect on these experiences, one favorite moment stands out.
On Wednesdays, the café hosted a regular Open Mic activity where attendees could share anything from music and poetry to jokes. One day, it seemed that everyone had showed up to share music. This memory is a favorite of mine because of how lovely and silly it felt, singing to each other across Zoom. We shared memories and songs and opened up about our favorite musical pieces we’d written or listened to since we were kids. We each took turns “performing” – sometimes for a few seconds and sometimes for a few minutes. I felt nervous to sing and even turned off my camera and mic to practice a capella for a short bit. When I finally took my turn, I shared a Russian lullaby my mom sang for me, which I now sing for my own children.
In total, we sang and danced to my Russian lullaby, the Batman theme song, a few tunes from Frank Sinatra, Silent Night, Silver Bells, Here Comes the Sun, and an original song performed on guitar and sung live. It was a sweet and much-needed break – a chance to check in with each other, to be present and vulnerable, and to laugh – and it will remain one of the memories I cherish from these extraordinary times.
Thank you for sharing your perspective, Stasya! Below are more moments from the L’Arche Cafe:
Inspired by this time together, the daily L’Arche Café is transitioning to a monthly gathering called US Together. Additional details on these gatherings with be communicated with community members.
Look below for more stories about life in L’Arche.