This piece was originally submitted to the Golden Thread Contest, a literary competition launched to honour writers 35 and under on the occasion of Canada’s Sesquicentennial anniversary. The stories collected during this initiative continue to exist as a part of the Voice From the Crowd collection, an online space that gives voice to the countless stories of faith that enrich the Canadian landscape.
As we gather around the table we celebrate the day's accomplishments, our triumphs and our failures. Mostly we laugh and enjoy each other companies. Everybody has a story to tell, a joke, a sadness to share.
I recently joined a l’Arche community in which people with and without intellectual disabilities choose to live our lives together.
One of the first things that struck me was the joy that is in the atmosphere. Everyday there is always laughter, dancing and celebration. People at l’Arche take celebration very seriously. There seems to always be a party to go, and people to honor. In our community when we celebrate someone we sing a song “thank you Lord for giving me ____, right where we are”, and passing around a candle, sharing stories. Gratitude and appreciation is abundant here.
One of my housemates is a man of few words. But when he smiles the whole room lights up. You can’t help but smile too. The happiness he spreads is contagious.
Another one of my house mates is an older lady, but that doesn’t stop her from making funny faces at you or telling jokes. She plays a grandmother-like role in the house, always ensuring everyone is okay, and always needing to know where everyone is. She makes everyone feel important.
My other housemate loves to sit outside and watch everyone passing. She is a staple in our neighbourhood. She always wakes up excited to start the day, and displays great enthusiasm for any and all outings. I have started to learn to start each day with that attitude.
I have felt that we are are meant to come together like this, to share our lives and grow together. Being in community has deepened and nurtured my faith. I know that God has called me to come and live in this community. I feel God’s presence alive in our home and our work.
Some may call it a simple life, but I would say it’s extraordinary.