Lately I’ve felt tired out by the YAV year. Missing home, family, and friends. I’ve just reached what I’m thinking is the hump day of the year. I have reached the top of a great hill of work and busyness and am at the precipice of the downhill glide through summer. Yet something happened today that reaffirmed my decision to be here.
I started the day in a zoom meeting for work and then had a long talk with a friend talking about nothing but a desire to return home. I grudgingly took my bike out and biked to work for a routine lasting from 3pm-11pm. I felt crummy going in. I arrived and worked with a core member in cooking dinner much like normal. We ate together and then joined in another room for our daily prayer time.
Today’s prayer time was a bit special as the community came together to bless and pray for a member of the community who was getting surgery the next day. We went around and shared our prayers for a successful surgery and an easy recovery. Then the person of whom we were praying for began to share stories of their time at L’arche. I heard stories I hadn’t heard before. Stories of the early years of the community around 40 years ago. I heard about the core members who were brought to L’arche out of the horrible Forest haven institution.
I then supported a core member in his normal evening routine. Going to his room, doing his oral hygiene routine, and getting dressed for bed. I then went downstairs and visited with another core member. He had somehow seen through what I thought was a well crafted facade covering my feelings of tiredness and asked me what was wrong. I told him how I was tired, how I missed home, how I wanted time off before going to school. He responded with the phrase “you can go to school.” I guess at that moment I wanted him to say “you can go home”. He then asked if he could pray for me and prayed for me to be able to go to school.
I then did my normal data entry for the day and in a brief moment of break I looked up the Forest Haven institution I had heard about in the stories shared earlier. I was filled with deep sadness reading about the horrific abuse and neglect that occurred there leading to the wrongful death of over 350 people with disabilities and was shut down only in 1991. I looked around the place I was in. A beautiful home filled with loving members of the community and saw a greater appreciation for where I was and what I am doing.
I then took a look inside one of our binders containing some history of core members. I read about a core member first coming to L’arche. I learned about how he had expressed nervousness about coming. Hoping it would not be the same as another group home he had been in for a month earlier in his life. A place where his belongings were stolen and his autonomy disrespected. He was able to leave after a call with his father where he shared how his TV was stolen.
I then finished my last bit of data entry and left the home in the good care of our overnight staff and got back on my bike. I put on my headphones and started the downhill cruise home. Maybe it was just the wind hitting my eyes but I began to cry on my way home. I thought of what I was being told in that “You can go to school”. I thought of the love in this community. I thought of the horrors that people with intellectual disabilities have gone through. I thought for the first time in a while that I might actually be in the right place.
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