Coming Home: The Liberation I Found at L’Arche

Happy Memorial Day, U.S. readers! This article was originally published in America, February 11, 2013, and is reprinted with the permission of America Press, Inc., americamagazine.org. I remember exactly where I was standing. It was in a small hallway at a L’Arche home in Washington, D.C., when I met my friend and housemate Pedro. At the time, I was visiting L’Arche for a series of interviews. I had not yet received an official job offer, but even so, I knew that I would be coming to live and work there. I could feel it in my bones; this was where ...
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For You, If You Don’t Want to Get Out of Bed in the Morning

It's a bright, beautiful day, but I'm not really seeing it. The world looks bleak. A bombing at the Boston Marathon, a city-wide manhunt, ongoing violence and terrorism the world over ... the hate seems very heavy, and the love feather-light. Part of me wishes I could be a small child again, blessedly unaware of all this. And what is the deepest wish of a child but to be safe, held, home? *** Photo Credit: Brian A. Taylor Photography And that calls a story to mind. To begin, I should tell you that I co-led the opening of ...
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Are You ‘Silent About Things That Matter’?

I celebrated Valentine's Day by doing something I've never done before: calling animal control. It all began when I started learning to drive our stick-shift truck. During 'driving practice', I'd have (metaphorical) blinders on. It was me against the truck, and the battle demanded every bit of my focus. Meet Curley, the sweet puppy I grew up with. Gradually, I started looking around as I drove. When I did, I noticed an elegant German Shepherd with mournful eyes. She'd bark at me, but I could tell her heart wasn't in it. She was chained to a tree. She ...
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We, the Prodigals: What it Means to Be Lost & Found

There are few terrors worse that the feeling that you've lost someone you love. This much was clear to me on that summer night in 2008. From my perch in the passenger seat, I scanned the sidewalks as best I could, reminding myself to breathe. Everyone was looking, even the police. We'd find her. But we didn't know that, really. Cassandra* had wandered away in the late afternoon, and now it was night. Aileen, my friend and fellow L'Arche** assistant, was in the driver's seat. She had to focus on piloting the van, but I could tell that she was ...
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The Dance of Disconnection (And Some New Moves)

You’ve probably had this happen to you. Coffee & connections, 2012. Photo Credit: Sarah Bayot You see a person you love after an extended time apart. It's wonderful to reunite. You feel so fortunate to have this friendship; you’re sure you’ll keep in touch. And then you go home, back to your everyday life, and you don’t call them for months. This isn’t something you do on purpose. It’s just that one day you wake up and realize that you're disconnected, despite your good intentions. At this point, you have a few options. You can: A) Shrug off ...
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A Song of Joy (and Our Reason to Sing)

Hello, welcome back, and Happy New Year! Coming next Monday, Jan. 14th! First, I'm happy to share that I Was a Stranger to Beauty (my new Kindle Single) launches with ThinkPiece Publishing next Monday, January 14th! L'Arche DC* will receive 5% of the proceeds from the first month's sales. Next week's post will feature an exclusive excerpt, but for this week, a story ... *** With each New Year, I choose a word as my theme. This New Year, it's joyful. I want to embrace the fullness of life, with joy. (In fact, 'Caroline' comes from the French ...
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In a Dark Time, Do You Dare to Welcome the Stranger?

About a year ago, I encountered a few words that changed my life. When we first met as roommates, we weren't sure we had a thing in common. Nearly 10 years later, her friendship is a treasure. You know what I mean -- it's the moment when a lyric from a song or a verse from a poem suddenly shoots right through you. It's that AHA of recognition that comes when you read something and say, "That's it exactly." This happened to me last year when, after leaving a stunning photography exhibition featuring actors and actresses with developmental ...
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Holding on to Hope (When Everything Seems Bleak)

There are days when it’s easy to be an optimist. These are the days in which your relationships are harmonious, when your work flows smoothly and according-to-plan. And all the while, you’re acutely, beautifully aware of the many blessings that surround you. On days like this, I readily believe in grace. And, in the words of Byron Katie, “Grace means understanding that where you are is where you always wanted to be.” And then there are … the other days. A tough day of flea-fighting The down days. The days that start with you over-sleeping, or maybe waking ...
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When You’re Not Sure What’s Most Important: A Course in Priorities, Courtesy of John Franklin Stephens & Tim Shriver

Reading at L'Arche I settled down at my desk to start my workday, plunging into administrative tasks. Deep down, I knew that this wasn't the best idea, but I didn't feel like writing. I didn't have any 'good' ideas. But then I started feeling guilty. Why hadn't I called my friends in the Northeast, where Hurricane Sandy hit? Granted, I knew they were safe, but I wanted to hear their voices. So I made a few calls. But then I felt guilty that I wasn't getting work done. I thought, My inner perfectionist is having a field day ...
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This is Real Love: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sometimes, your choice to care comes back to bite you. Literally. Sometimes, the choice to welcome a sweet, spunky little kitten into your home -- a choice you made with gladness -- can get you into trouble.  Or to put another way: If you're ever in need of a punishment to inflict upon your worst (hypothetical) enemies, here's an idea: Infest their home with fleas. Do this while they're on vacation, so that when they return, travel-weary from, say, 10 hours of driving, they'll be greeted by legions of leaping, ravenous bugs that weren't there when they left. As you've ...
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