I belong to a community which celebrates the unique value of every person and recognize our need of one another.
Today we join the world in celebrating our mothers. We celebrate you, mothers of our core members who welcomed and natured our brothers and sisters we share our lives with. We celebrate you, mothers, who are our assistants. You juggle being mothers at your houses and being assistants at L’Arche. You are a gift to us. We celebrate you, mothers who are part of our board. You multitask your roles and steering this ship called L’Arche Zimbabwe. We celebrate you, mothers, who journey with us in different capacities, as volunteers, partners, friends and accompaniers. May God bless you for being you. We appreciate you.
The lockdown in our country has invited us to reflect on some aspects of our lives which we used to take for granted. Physical presence is one of these aspects. Now that we can not easily move from one house to the other, we realise how it is so important. Core members and assistants miss such moments when they could easily visit the nearby church or friends and relatives. Shaking hands, giving and receiving hugs, looking at a person directly and smiling, these experiences were and they are still part of the felt order which defines our relations. The practices are missed together with the feelings of security, comfort and closeness which they trigger.
Core members and assistants have had to learn new practices and expressions of being present to each other. Where we used to greet each other with hugs and handshakes, we are now doing an elbow gesture whilst maintaining some distance. We have learnt to video chat on Whatsapp and Zoom and be content, somehow, for the time being.
One of the positive takeaways from the COVID-19 experience has been the tremendous support the community has received from the members of the society and the Federation. We have received messages of concern and love from sister communities across the globe. Somehow we have reached out to each other and continuously pushing each other to survive the epidemic.
In the houses, we have learnt to play traditional games and some modern ones to us such as Ludo. We had to sharpen our voices through singing and exercise every day through Aerobics and Zumba. Through this experience, we have learnt that we can decide to be alive regardless of the circumstances.
By Gibson Nyika
Being with core members most of the time has taught me that each individual is gifted and talented in a different way. In most cases when we talk of gifts and talents, people turn to focus on those celebrities that are known all over the world. Furthermore, if one claims to be talented or gifted, people turn to focus on how much money or material things that one owns from his or her gift. In L’Arche assistants pay more attention to core members and discover their gifts so that they share what God has given them with the entire community.
Bobby is one of the core members in our community who has a great gift of welcoming and entertaining visitors. Whenever a guest arrives in the community Bobby makes sure that he introduces himself and take the visitor around. In addition, his welcoming nature does not only end with welcoming and telling stories, he makes a strong bond with whoever he meets. He normally identifies those whom he meet as his siblings or parents. Bobby’s character always reminds us of the great gifts which the Lord has bestowed on each person and also that gifts or talents are not only viewed on the aspect of the material matrix. On the other hand his gift echoes the values of L’Arche that it’s a community that welcomes everyone.
As L’Arche, we have so many lessons to share with the world. One of these lessons is based on our differences and how we embrace them as the source for our enriched lives. To be frank, looking at us from a general perspective can be very confusing. We are a bunch of different personalities, abilities and beliefs. We have those of us who are Methodists,
Catholics, Anglicans and Pentecostal. We have those of us who are Autistic, those with Down syndrome, some who have Cerebral Palsy and others who are Hydrocephalic. Some of us can speak verbally, some have limited verbal skills but masters of gestures and sign language. We are a bunch of differently-abled people. Our differences are huge yet they don’t separate us but compel us to be more responsive to each other. We all come together like pieces of a mosaic, painting a remarkable life through our difference. Like a mosaic, the different colours bring out the colour and the vividness of experiences. Collectively the different pieces shape unity of purpose and love just like a mosaic bringing an image to life. If the world could look at its differences that way and embrace the uniqueness of each one, we would have a beautiful huge Mosaic.