Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and welcome back!
Since the last post here, I’ve traveled over 2,100 miles by car, traveling with a mission of seeing as many beloved people as possible. (It seems logging 2,000+ miles is becoming a Thanksgiving tradition around here … fellow far-flung travelers, you have my sympathies!)
What a ride it has been. There are so many stories I could share. But today, I’ll tell you a small story about the time my husband and I spent at L’Arche DC*, in the home where we used to live and work together.
When we arrived at L’Arche after a 13 hour drive, I didn’t want to sleep; I wanted to wake people up and hold them in my arms. But I chose, instead, to enjoy the house itself.
Things had changed since my husband and I moved away. New paint colors appeared on the walls, new artwork adorned them, and new people lived within them. Yet even so, I had a visceral sense of home.
Now, that L’Arche house isn’t ‘perfect’. It has held some tensions and discord over the years. But it has also held love. And love lingers in a space; it’s what makes people feel peaceful the moment they walk in the door.
It made such an impression on me, the way the house seemed to have absorbed everything that had passed between its walls into a bedrock of peace. And I thought: If a house can do that, so can we.
That peaceful feeling remained as I read with Leo**, as I sat next to Miguel and scribbled in my journal as he scribbled in his magazines. And even though I knew that the house wasn’t ‘mine’ anymore, I still felt like I was a part of it, a thread in the tapestry.
And the pattern became even clearer on our last night there. After supper, I overheard Leo talking about me to one of the other guests. He indicated to me and said, “Hey, guess what? She writes books now.”
It’s hard to explain the feeling I had as I overheard those words. It was the sense that someone has hit the nail exactly on the head, that they have said of you the most wonderful thing that could have been said.
Leo implied that he approved of my choice to write, that he was proud of me for it. He seemed to say that what I do fits into the spirit of L’Arche — into that home, into those hearts.
On the day my first-grade teacher told us that we’d be writing our own books, I knew that writing was the life for me. What could be better than making a book? (That first book was entitled, “My Brother,” and it was a straightforward, terribly-illustrated account of life with Willie.)
Since then, I have always wanted to be a ‘real’ writer, and I am tremendously thankful for the ways in which that dream has come true. I’ve written and published two books in the last two years, and I’ve been working on my next project for some time. And on that note, I have exciting news to share.
To begin, I spent this past summer writing a proposal for my third book. And in the process of seeking representation for the project, I came into contact with an independent publisher who had a wonderful idea:
Now, this wasn’t part of my original plan of agent first, then publisher. But if I’ve learned anything at all from L’Arche, I’ve learned that the best things in life are not part of my original plans. So I said, Yes. Let’s do it.
With that, I am proud to announce the forthcoming release of I Was a Stranger to Beauty.
ThinkPiece Publishing plans to launch the digital book this winter; it will be available for Kindle, Nook, and iPad. I’ll be sure to share more details as they become available.
It’s funny; usually, when I have a launch coming up, I feel nervous and scared. But today, all I feel is peace.
Maybe it’s L’Arche, maybe it’s Leo, or maybe it’s simply the love that went into this work … the kind of love that surpasses fear.
Whatever it is, I can’t wait to share this book with you.
Where have you felt an inexplicable sense of peace? Join the conversation in the comments below!
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*L’Arche is a faith-based non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. I spent 5 years serving the DC community in various caregiving roles.
**Names have been changed to protect privacy.