L'Arche of the Blue Ridge

Posted at 11:23 AM | Comments (5)

I used to be on the board for the local L'Arche home.  Life has been so busy (mostly children) that I don't find myself serving in those types of capacity anymore.  But I finally dragged myself back over there on Tuesday night because I wanted to video tape the home for an on-line course on transitions. There are over 300 of these Christian homes all throughout the world.  Their founding fathers and spiritual writers were Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen.   One of my favorite quotes from Henri Nouwen is when he said he "feels closest to God when he is with people with disabilities".  These homes are incredible because they take adults who would normally be institutionalized and place them in a Christian community/home.  Where there are no "workers", but assistants to the core members who are there for service and solitude and shared love.  These homes have nights of worship, solitude retreats, spiritual disciplines such as feet washing... many things long forgot by most of our practices of worship.

So, here I was on Tuesday night for their worship hour, to video tape their lives.  Forgetting what it is like to be amongst those with disabilities.  I couldn't relax at first.  As I watched a dozen of adults have a few moments of silence to begin the hour of worship, I found myself wondering where they kept their TV or computers and my cell phone kept buzzing me with texts, emails, etc.  While holding hands in a large circle and between silence, they would sing and pray.   The leader went around the room and took prayer requests from each of the members of the home.  A dozen adults, half in wheel chairs, some severely disabled, and then I started to notice things - I noticed as they took requests not a single one of them offered a prayer request for themselves!  I can't imagine their suffering, their frustrations and/or the physical and mental pains of being in a wheel chair.  But not one lifted up a request for their own pains or heartaches.  They prayed for each other and for their family, but not a single complaint about their life.   And then they would sing... loudly and boldly and sometimes badly... but they worshipped with such blind and bold faith.  It was a sight to see.   Then silence again, and I finally began to slow down and feel His presence amongst these beautiful people.   After a few minutes, it was praise time... each one went around the room with praise - "a warm blanket", "a warm house", "LOVE"... many of them said love from their home.   Then silence again...

We ended the night in Christmas carols, singing songs... loudly and boldly... finding myself getting louder too. 

If you have the opportunity to know someone who works and/or lives with people with disabilities, you may see something different about them.  Something so pure and innocent, and on the surface I think it is the sacrifice they give to working with those with disabilities.  But if you know them more, you know it is what those with disabilities give to them...  that feeling of being close to God...