It’s still Easter, so let’s experience God’s earthly presence in the members of the multitude of humanity!
you created and brought forth humanity
to flower as a multitude of cultures.
Open our eyes and ears to your ways
so that each day
we can better experience your earthly presence
and praise you.
Help us to grow in wisdom and goodness
witnessing that you sustain
all that exists.
The solemnity of today will be overwhelmed by the joy of Easter, but there were tokens of the coming feast for those with eyes to see.
Before the sun was properly up I was looking into the back garden. What was that hunched figure inspecting the flowerpots? A hedgehog woken from hibernation and going about its business, ridding us of a few pests. That was enough to mark the day.
After the prayerful L’Arche Good Friday service some of us found our way to the Glebe garden, where a shrine had been built of willow wands. If this was intended to be a place of quiet reflection it soon became a meeting place for people who had barely seen each other during covid; another hint of the resurrection to come.
Flitting across the garden was a brimstone butterfly, a caterpillar died but transformed into a creature of beauty no less wondrous for being totally expected.
Then to my task of adorning the church porch. The Easter garden needed the finishing touches, Mary’s jar of ointment and the grave cloths hidden behind the door (a scallop shell to be rolled to one side). What concerned me was the Easter lilies. We had some in flower the last two years, but it had been touch and go this time. Since today was warm, the first flowers were unfurling to be bright and white on Easter Day.
In the evening down to the Cathedral to hear Faure’s Requiem, with its upbeat finish: May the Angels welcome you to Paradise, may the martyrs meet you and lead you to the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Walking home from the Cathedralin the glowing dusk, under the Easter full moon, three blackbirds, singing their hearts out, serenading the new life hatched in their nests. They will be busy tomorrow, as no doubt will I, but by these tokens and by other sure evidence I know that my redeemer liveth.
Laetare Sunday is three weeks before Easter. ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’, have a joyful Sunday! Perhaps this is a good time to think ahead to Easter, so here’s a project for you. Last year Vincent and Maurice made Easter Gardens for the locked-down L’Arche Kent houses, and the slide show tells how we did it.
You don’t need to use big pots like these, especially if yours will be displayed indoors. Ours were outside people’s houses or St Mildred’s church for a few weeks, so we used big pots to keep the plants alive.
We think the houses could make their own gardens this year, so here’s our helpful guide. You’ve got three weeks, so start off by collecting the pits and pieces. Don’t forget to share your photos by emailing email@example.com .
We continue on our way through Lent. This post is an invitation to transcend false perceptions and be more conscious of the gifts and needs of people with a learning disability, through the eyes and heart of L’Arche. This link will lead you to the page about the impact of the last couple of years on our communities, with more pictures and videos of how L’Arche is trying to help. You will also find tabs leading to more about the people who make L’Arche.
Around 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom are thought to have a learning disability. Of these, 147,920 are accessing long-term support.
Many people with a learning disability experience multiple forms of inequality and discrimination throughout their lives: only 6% of adults with learning disability in England are in paid work; people with learning disability are seven times more likely to including chronic loneliness; the difference in median age of death between people with a learning disability and the general population is 23 years for men and 27 years for women.
What L’Arche is doing to help
The source of discrimination lies in the false perception that people with learning disabilities are unable to make positive contributions to the world around them. L’Arche challenges this by creating Communities where people with and without learning disabilities share their lives, from which we work together for a more human society.
L’Arche Communities are rooted in the simple activities of daily life: preparing a meal or making a handicraft together, going for a walk, sharing a cup of tea, celebrating a birthday. Every day, we grow extraordinary friendships through ordinary activities.
The point is that you say these are moments where we live community with one another around the table. Everybody’s there. Perhaps we have a candle or flowers, or a song and a prayer, and we take our time. Whatever you do, we are not eating in order to just fill our bellies and go back to work. We are eating together in community, to be together around the same food and to nurture ourselves. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. So if you don’t have these things, I think a good thing for a community to do is to constantly revisit the question: Are we still eating well together? Or have our meals become something similar to fast-food places?
I know a family or a community from the way they behave at the table. It can be: This is peaceful. This is wonderful. I’m welcome here. But if everybody is watching television, others are running off for phone calls, then nobody’s really ever there. So to say, we will do everything possible to make sure that everyone is there, that we are not doing other things like telephoning, listening to the radio, or watching television on the side. This is a sacred hour. And in our culture there are very few families who can do that. So it’s not obvious in our culture. And I just picked up a McDonald’s hamburger yesterday on the way here.
Since I met my wife when we were independently visiting L’Arche, I am happy to post this video on Valentine’s Day. We have much to be grateful for; not just each other but also the friends we have made through the community.
The speakers in this little film are assistants, community members without a learning disability, all of them in the community long-term. If you would like to learn more about life in L’Arche, the website address is at the end of the video: http://www.larche.org.uk. Get in touch! Come and see!
L’Arche Apprenticeships (Health and Social Care) offer a unique opportunity to learn new skills, build friendships and receive valuable health and social care training – all while experiencing the fun and joy of sharing life with adults who have learning disabilities. We’re partnering with careers platform ‘Springpod’ to present a virtual insight event where members of the L’Arche team will share their experiences.
We would love to invite you to come along and hear for yourself what makes L’Arche such a special place to learn and grow. On Wednesday 16th February, we’ll be hosting two live webinars*: *recordings of the sessions will be available online for one year Session #1 From care to community: what people with learning disability really want | 11am Community not institutions! That’s what people with a learning disability have demanded. But how do you create inclusive communities where one of the most under-represented groups in the country really belong? Discover what L’Arche is doing and why it’s so important.
Session #2 Become a community-builder – while getting an apprenticeship! | 12pm L’Arche is a movement with 11 communities across the UK and more than 150 worldwide. You don’t need to choose between developing your career and contributing to a life-changing cause. Discover how you could get a Health and Social Care apprenticeship while sharing life in community with people who have a learning disability. You can sign up to attend our virtual insight event here:Sign me up! We know that you have a busy few months ahead as you get ready to leave school…
Apprenticeship Weeks are happening around the UK (England and Wales 7-13 February; Scotland 7-11 March), packed with events and resources to give you the low-down on apprenticeships and help you as you make your next steps. We’ve decided to host our webinars outside of these weeks, on Wednesday 16th February, to give you the opportunity to attend as many events as seem relevant to you. For many students, this date falls in the half term break.
If you’re not able to join us live, the recorded event will be available online for a year. Who are the webinars for?
Anyone considering an apprenticeship is welcome to attend our webinars. Those we take on at L’Arche are proactive, friendly people who enjoy getting stuck in and building community. We think an apprenticeship at L’Arche could appeal to Psychology, Sociology or Health and Social Care students. However, we’re much more concerned about taking on apprentices who will embrace a new challenge with enthusiasm, than we are about what courses you’ve been studying at school or college. What will the webinars be like? Each of our two webinars will be around 45 minutes in length. During that time, we’ll introduce you to L’Arche and its culture, as well as some of the people who are enjoying working with L’Arche at the moment. We’ll make the sessions interactive, so you’ll have a chance to ask questions and get involved! The event will be recorded and available to view online for a year. What will happen after the webinars? We appreciate the time taken by everyone who applies to be a L’Arche Apprentice. That’s why we are committed to offering a guaranteed interview to all applicants who attend our webinars. Once the webinars are live, we’ll direct you to the application process. We hope to see you there!Sign me up!
Talking of trees as we were yesterday: the L’Arche garden where we were listening and looking for the robin was blessed and opened by the then Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott. I found this quotation from Bishop Trevor the other day.
‘If I knew the world was to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today’. Of all that Martin Luther wrote and said, these words resonate strongly with me and, I would hope, with the whole Christian Church as we continue to seek and to bear out witness to Jesus Christ and to serve the needs of His world.
A world that badly needs trees! At the Glebe the other day we saw a squirrel planting nuts – or storing them for future use. Squirrel won’t remember them all. Some may well germinate and grow, in which case we gardeners will pot them on and think about where to plant them. If you don’t know where to plant yours, the Woodland Trust will do that for you in the UK; other charities will help people plant trees overseas and make sure they are watered and survive. Last December we met the Happy Man Tree in Hackney, London, which did not survive despite local pressure to keep it and build around it. It was felled earlier this year to make way for housing.
L’Arche Kent walking together and exploring who we are.
Do you believe that you could be the change you wish to see in the world?
If you want to build a better world and more human society, then L’Arche is the place to be!
In a world that rewards success and winning, L’Arche Kent community is a place where people with and without learning disabilities can take time to explore who they are, not just what they can do. It is a place of welcome and belonging where everyone is transformed by the experience of community, relationship, disability and difference.
We are inviting applications for the posts of
Support Workers and Night Support Workers(full or part time)
Salary: £20,841 rising to £21,216 per annum (pro rata)
Bank Assistants (casual relief)
Salary: £10.02 per hour; Location: Canterbury
To find out more about this great opportunity or for an informal chat please contact Gunita (Assistants Coordinator) firstname.lastname@example.org; 01227 643025
For further information and an application pack please visit www.larchekent.org.uk > Join our team > Vacancies
Positions are subject to a DBS check at the enhanced level.
Registered Charity No. 264166. Company Limited by guarantee. No. 1055041
I give you the end of a golden string,
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven's gate,
Built in Jerusalem's wall.
On our last L’Arche pilgrimage, those of us at the back of the group were following, not a golden string but arrows chalked on the pavement by the children. Who would not jump at the chance to draw graffiti across a town without getting into trouble? Only in the woods did we need some imagination to read the arrows they had created from sticks and stones.
In Dover town I ended up walking with P, who was happy enough to be walking way behind everyone else. Carrying the banner helped him concentrate on moving along. But we had to stop along the riverbank to watch the Dover ducks, who were quacking loudly. So I quacked back, quietly and politely, and so did P.
But my stomach was rumbling, and that golden string was going to snap if we lost touch with everyone else.
Soon a search party came to chivvy us along, so that we got to Kearsney Abbey park before all the food was gone. That was important to both of us!
Who knows where their golden string will lead them, on the way to Heaven’s gate? Blake’s picture shows us a woman walking beneath the White Cliffs and looking up to where her string is leading her. He does not show how our personal strings ravel together. Those weavings, knots, stitches, embroidery and tangles are part of each of our life’s journey, part of our shared pilgrimage, helping each other to find the way; as P and I did, one morning in Dover.