Janet and I have a little more time that we can call our own, now that we are semi-retired. Mostly it does not feel like a choice between getting on with something and taking it easy: there is always something to be done!
We find ourselves returning to our local L’Arche Kent Community. There is always something to be done there, but we often find ourselves taking it easy in the doing of it.
l’Arche is a community where people with and without learning disabilities live and work together. At totally different times we have both lived and worked in communities in England and Canada, and we have kept in touch with friends in L’Arche Kent, in my case for forty years. We are getting to know newer core members and assistants as we spend more time with them.
Time: there are moments when any of us can feel it running away, and we take account of how we spend it. As my grandmother used to recite:
“How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour?
She gathers honey all the day
And knocks off at half past fower.”
(My Grandmother would not have apologised to Isaac Watts, but maybe I should.)
L’Arche slows us down, reminds us that being with people is as important as doing things for them – think back to my mother’s carers we mentioned the other day. The Corporal Works of Mercy are concerned with presence: visiting the sick and those in prison spring to mind. This is not to suggest that core members of L’Arche should be considered sick or prisoners, though when I first joined to community most of our core members had been incarcerated in what were called subnormality hospitals. The very name was dehumanising. After working in one of these places for a few months, I was glad to find a better way.