Our March L'Arche@Tabor event was Music and Movement themed! We had a great time enjoying laughing yoga, freeze dancing, singing songs together, and watching a L'Arche flash mob! L'Arche Portland loves to connect through dancing, singing, and laughter, so it was the perfect way to connect with each other and make new friends. If you missed L'Arche@Tabor this month, be sure to attend L'Arche@Westside Monday, March 18 for similar music and movement themed activities!
I would say that Joni has a very youthful sense of humor. The funniest thing for Joni is if someone falls, (Joni makes silly noise) or sounds like that, or drops something, does something silly, or hurts themselves, not bad, but bumps themselves, Joni will laugh so hard.
Joni laughs at herself too which is a great reminder that you can't take yourself too seriously. Traditional spoken language isn't really the best in making a relationship with Joni. Joni communicates with her signs and facial expressions and gestures, but sense of humor is an amazing way to bridge what might seem at first like a communication gap. Once you can figure out what's funny to Joni and Joni figures out whats funny to you, you guys are gonna be golden.
And Joni's laugh is the best too. Hearing Joni's laugh makes me laugh. Being an assistant and living in L'Arche in general has inspired me to really tap into my sense of humor. Sometimes I say laugh to keep from crying, because some days are really draining, you know? Not in a bad way but just emotionally and physically you're tapped out. But I never tap out of my sense of humor, it's always there.
A couple days ago marked six months from when I moved into the L’Arche Portland community back in August! It is wild (and a little scary) to think how fast half a year has gone. I feel like I have grown so much, but also like I have not grown enough.
My heart has become full with new friendships, new seasons in old friendships, and a deepened, mature romance—lots of relationship building and fostering has happened over this period of time. I have learned the in’s and out’s of a new job, and even begun to take on new responsibilities and tasks. I have created a new home, adjusted to a new routine, and discovered new passions. But still there are some other things I thought I would have done or improved by now. I thought I might be over that thing that still hurts me, or have found a better way to stay connected with that person I love. I thought I would have already painted those paintings, or finished those books. I thought I might have scheduled that dentist appointment, joined that team, or wrote those letters. But I haven’t.
Maybe I need to be ok with that—be patient and gentle with myself—but maybe there are some actions steps I could take toward making improvements.
In L’Arche we have a “Six Month Review” meaning my team members and I will soon be reviewing my presence in the home, and offering feedback in areas that are gifts and areas that have room for growth. It feels like maybe I could also complete a wider Six Month Review, checking in with my overall self to see what areas of my life have been nourishing, what areas have been challenging, and what areas have been missing. I think if I list out these three categories, I might be able to create some action steps towards increasing nourishing items, diminishing challenging ones, and introducing the ones that have been missing.
What about you? Is now a good time to pause and check in with yourself, your emotions, and your goals? What might be on your lists?
Cheers to milestones, self-reflection, and proactive steps toward better lifestyles.
Keep peace and keep creating,
This blog post was written by Parker Davis, a L'Arche Portland live-in assistant. It was originally posted on his daily blog, fifteen at five, which we highly recommend you check out!
Eric Conklin, our new Development Manager, began his time at L'Arche Portland last month. And we are so happy to have him!
Help us welcome him by saying hello or sending an email.
A bit about Eric: Eric and his son Auggie live in an intentional Christian community called the Mystic Duplex in the Cully neighborhood of Northeast Portland. As a United Methodist deacon he wonders how spiritual intentional communities of all shapes and sizes will shape our city for the common good. Eric enjoys walking through the woods in all kinds of weather, running, hauling Auggie around on the back of the electric cargo bike, the local beverage scene, socializing with friends, and his favorite sports teams will always be: the Chicago Cubs.
Kelsey Guckenberger, our Community Coordinator created a trivia game so that we could get to know Eric better when we welcomed him into the office. We learned that he is a dog person, his favorite color is Chicago Cubs blue, he loves folk rock, and his favorite snack is cheese and crackers.
L'Arche Portland wishes all of our friends and fellow L'Arche communities a very happy new year. We are excited to see what this year has in store for us.
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reflect upon our values, spirituality, and intentions in preparation for the coming year. At L'Arche, we often look toward the Ten Pillars of L'Arche Spirituality to center ourselves and relate to one another through shared values.
Ten Pillars of L'Arche Spirituality:
Our community of faith is composed of people of different faith traditions, spiritual paths, and intellectual abilities and we are committed to living intentionally out of the deeply spiritual dimension of life. Each member is called to be rooted and deepen in his or her chosen faith tradition or spiritual path, and to recognize, respect and nurture the underlying unity of all faith traditions, especially those practiced by our members. The richest expressions of this underlying unity are in the authentic and mutual relationships built through the joys and challenges of sharing daily life together.
Let us take these first weeks of the new year to center ourselves on the Pillars of L'Arche Spirituality as we enter yet another year of growth and community building at L'Arche Portland and any other communities we are a part of.
Comment below and let us know which Pillars of L'Arche Spirituality resonate most with you and why, or which ones you hope to focus on in the coming year.
This year's L'Arche@UP Christmas Celebration was a hit! Here are some photos in case you couldn't make it. We enjoyed visits from baby Jesus and Santa as well as caroling and a delicious dinner. Happy Holidays, friends of L'Arche.
“To love someone does not mean first of all to do things for that person; it means helping him to discover his own beauty, uniqueness, the light hidden in his heart and the meaning of his life. Through love a new hope is communicated to that person and thus a desire to live and to grow. The communication of love may require words, but love is essentially communicated through nonverbal means: our attitudes, our eyes, our gestures and our smiles.” – Jean Vanier
This year we lost our friend Rodney Gabriel, who lived at the heart of L’Arche Portland’s community life for over 25 years. Personally, it was a great privilege to walk with Rodney during the last 5 years of his life. He affectionately called me “Andy Pandy”, which was always a good reminder not to take myself too seriously. We also frequently shared our experiences and sad feelings about the deaths of our fathers when we were both young. I loved Rodney, like so many of us who were invited by him into friendship, and I will miss his invitation: “Come here, I wanna ask you something. Sit down, take it easy.”
There will never be another Rodney Gabriel, and it is hard to imagine another person whose life so clearly personifies the transformational power of community and relationships. Susan Mitchell, former community leader and housemate of Rodney, shared at his memorial:
“Rodney’s vulnerability and insecurity from the loss of his family in childhood and from the wounds of institutional living continued to express themselves through challenging behaviors. At the same time, his authentic self was emerging through the transforming power of love.
“My life, too, has been transformed through my friendship with Rodney. His love and acceptance of my vulnerability and challenging behaviors have helped me to become more fully my authentic self. Thank you, Rodney, for welcoming me, and so many others, into your life. Thank you for being my teacher and my friend. Your spirit and your love will live on in my heart always.”
This past year L’Arche Portland made the commitment to create more opportunities for people with and without intellectual disabilities to experience relationships that unlock our beauty, uniqueness, the light hidden in our hearts, and the meaning of our lives. Will you invest in L’Arche Portland so that more people might experience transformative relationships like those shared by Rodney, Susan, and so many others?
Henri Nouwen wrote, “In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.” In a world divided and polarized, where otherness is often vilified, Rodney was one of our great teachers. I am grateful for the impact he made on so many of his friends, calling them to the vocation of peacemaking, and sending them into the world with the experience of building relationships and loving others beyond differences.
You can invest in this vocation of peacemaking by supporting L’Arche Portland today. We need your help to support the lives and relationships found within our current homes, our new home in Beaverton (to be opened in 2019), and the circles of friends that gather at our monthly community events: L’Arche@Tabor, L’Arche@Westside, and L’Arche@UP.
During this holiday season, I am grateful for your prayers and support of L’Arche Portland. As Rodney’s life shows us so clearly, we are making a difference in the lives of each person we encounter, and continue to be an unapologetic sign of love in a world starving for connection.
In gratitude and peace,
Andrew J Noethe
Executive Director | Community Leader
P.S. - As is our community tradition, we recently blessed a yard statue in memory of Rodney at our November L’Arche@Tabor gathering. This horse will live in the yard at our Neahkahnie home to remember Rodney and his love of animals and cowboys.
Our Christmas Tree lots are officially open! This means that it's time to gather the family, head to the lot, and search for the perfect Christmas tree. Our trees are locally grown and freshly cut, featuring a wide variety of Noble, Douglas, Grand, and Nordmann firs to fit any room, from tabletop to 10'.
If you already have a tree and are just looking for a way to spread Christmas cheer, we invite you to volunteer at one of our lots. Sign up for a one-time or recurring shift either on your own or with a group.
Last week, Sr. Sue Mosteller visited L'Arche Portland as the last stop of her journey through L'Arche communities of the Pacific Northwest. On Thursday, Sue spoke at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, sharing "Travel Tips for Your Heart's Journey." Nathan Ball accompanied Sue throughout her Pacific Northwest journey and introduced her as a lifelong friend and someone who is trusted by many. She shared personal stories about her friendship with Henri Nouwen and the ways their relationship transformed her.
On Friday, Sue joined our assistants, core members, and office staff for an intimate gathering. We shared snacks with Sue then gathered in a circle to ask Sue questions and hear stories. Nathan invited all of us to share our names. Sue followed by speaking about the importance of our names and how sacred it is to hear someone say our name. Perhaps that is one of the most important "ordinary things" we do with "extraordinary love" at L'Arche. We make sure that everyone feels heard, is seen, and hears their name being said.
One of Sue's greatest lessons is about our gifts. We each have unique gifts that we can offer to our communities and to the world. As part of a community, we must take time to recognize and acknowledge the gifts our friends offer. We must remember to say "thank you."
To conclude our gathering, we blessed Sue and Nathan each with the "beautiful song," which goes:
Sue you are beautiful, Sue you are strong,
Wonderful to be with, carry us along
Sue you are a loving song.
Marilyn loves to bless others with the beautiful song and was ready to sing it to everyone in the room. This is one of her many gifts.
Thank you, Sue, for joining us and sharing your wisdom, stories, and jokes.
Thank you Nathan Ball and Joan Winchester for accompanying Sue throughout her travels.