I stayed in L’Arche because of a formal commitment initially. After living into my formal commitment for a good while, it morphed into a more ephemeral, emotional and spiritual commitment. What I loved about L’Arche from the beginning was that I was met WHERE I WAS AT. I wasn’t asked to be anything inauthentic, I was required to practice self-awareness and through this make note of my areas for growth—to make strides in working through them. My accomplishments on this front and my gifts were utilized effectively, and there was much room given to me in order to find my place in the community and to find out who I was in my relationships with others. I was simply asked to be more and more myself. The people are what made L’Arche such a supportive vocational home for me and my time. There was a sense of mutual respect pervading all of my dealings with others while I was there. L’Arche’s people can’t be beat—whether core members, assistants, administration or wider community members. I never knew people could hold each other accountable while at the same time loving each other so greatly. The draw to work in social justice through direct care of the core members hooked me but it was the care I received in return that kept me committed. I loved and struggled through all the growth opportunities at L’Arche—I was challenged and my creativity was reformed with more resilience than it had had before. I am a changed person, marked for life due to my time at L’Arche. I was fed while at L’Arche—mind, body and soul. It strengthened my faith in self, earth and God—in creation. I am thankful for these lessons, these things L’Arche brought out of me. My time in community was a gift and a blessing. L’Arche challenges AND gifts me each day I’m a part of it. It seems rare for any “workplace” to say the same. I use these quotation marks because we all know L’Arche is so much more than a workplace. It is a world unto itself, with kings and queens, jesters, pitfalls and great triumphs. Who knew this much life experience could be contained in three little houses on Capitol Hill? I was in L’Arche for almost three years. I believe that that time was laden with growth and accomplishment and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Now that my formal role as an assistant at L’Arche has come to a close, I see so much of L’Arche carrying through in my “secular” life. I see heightened self-care, improved homemaking skills and hospitality abilities, deeper listening skills and greater understanding found. I hope these things will continue to grow in me after L’Arche and that what L’Arche did was to tend to the soil of my heart, head and soul—until a later date when life’s fullness will complete this process and great fruit will be had. It is with great expectation and great memories that I ground into the present, enjoying each moment and recognizing the threads of compassionate wisdom that have flowed through my time at L’Arche and into my time following L’Arche.
By Chris Porter Mental Health Counselor
L'Arche Noah Sealth of Seattle, P.O. Box 22023 Seattle, WA 98122 Phone (206) 325-9434