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Mutuality of the Spirit

Recently, I have spent time reflecting on the Fruits of the Spirit which are taught to us in scripture: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As I reflect, I realize that these fruits are evident to me as I share time in L’Arche. Thus, I’d like to reflect on each of the fruits over time, and first, I’d like to begin with LOVE. 



It’s not hard to fall in love and feel loved in L’Arche. Even as one enters the community and begins to meet the Core Members, some, including myself, can honestly say we felt loved on our very first visit. I have experienced this in three different L’Arche communities and have heard others share the same feelings. It seems that this is a common phenomenon shared throughout L’Arche communities, but why? 


The most obvious reason to me is because of the uniquely strong and natural ability of Core Members to love. Love doesn’t take much thought for them. Love is offered freely and without reservations. This is evident to me in many ways. 

During my first visit to the house I share time in now, it wasn’t long until I was told I was loved and asked when I was coming back. Just like that! Of course I did come back, and when I did, that same Core Member called me by name and asked me how I was doing. I could tell he truly cared about me, this person that he barely knew. This struck a cord on my heartstrings and made me feel instantly loved and welcomed. 



As time passes by, our love and connection continues to grow and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not offered a warm embrace and am told I am loved. No words can express how much this means to me. Every day, no matter what is going on, I know that there is enough love to go around to anyone who is open to accept it and share it in return. Those warm embraces and genuine words are shared in good times and in bad. Whether we are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, mourning the loss of a friend, or dealing with conflict, I can always see the unconditional love flowing throughout our home. 



Recently, I was a bit down one day and a Core Member asked me: “What’s wrong, honey?” When I answered saying “I’m just a little sad” he responded by offering me a warm embrace and told me, “Don’t be sad. You can cry on my shoulder.” (Of course, we try to keep our distance amidst COVID precautions, but I needed that shoulder to cry on in that moment.) So I did, and I felt truly loved. How did he know what I needed though? How did he know that I needed to be loved? 



Beyond this interpersonal love, I can truly “feel the love” that our home offers every day when I walk through the door as if something was in the air. Hearing those familiar voices and entering a “home away from home” fills my heart with love—a love in the form of “community”— offered to me every day, filling a deep longing in my soul. This deep longing, I believe, is one that is shared amongst human beings who were created simply to love and to be loved. Yes, we were created for community, not to do this life alone. The most beautiful thing is that this love, this community, is offered to anyone who walks through that door. It is offered to anyone who opens their heart to L’Arche. 



This season of COVID-19 has certainly disrupted a lot of things in our world, hasn’t it? However, it cannot disrupt or take away the love that is flowing generously within the L’Arche Community…and for this I am so very thankful. 

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