By Stephen Rigby
“My journey in L’Arche has at times been complicated. After spending fourteen months living-in in L’Arche Brisbane I moved to L’Arche Genesaret in Canberra. The community was in a time of transition. After about three months I was asked to move from one house to another within the Community. It was a time of struggle for me. The decision to leave L’Arche Brisbane had been a very painful one. I was struggling to settle into Genesaret and into this new house and new Community.
I would like to introduce you to one of my good friends in this house. The best way I know to describe Ron is that he is a gentleman; and I mean that literally, he is a gentle man. Ron likes a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. One of the things that first drew me to Ron is that he is a fellow caffeine addict; a coffee in the morning is an essential for both me and for Ron.
Ron also likes to be busy, he still works a few days a week even though he recently turned seventy four. One of the other things I admire about Ron is his skill in crocheting. He spends a lot of time in the lounge room in his house crocheting. One of my fondest memories is of him at a community weekend with some other people sitting together knitting, we jokingly called it the ‘Knitting Circle”.
“Ron helps me to remember that in L’Arche we are a sign of something bigger.”
Another thing that I really admire about Ron and his crocheting is that he reminds me that the things that we do have an impact that we cannot always understand. When Ron starts crocheting he does not know what shape the ultimate product will take. He simply begins. In many ways he reminds me of that classic saying attributed to Confucius “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. It also reminds me that often we all need someone else to help us to see what is possible. Ron used to simply crochet pieces of wool together and then unravel them. One day an assistant had the idea of taking these pieces and creating out of the beautiful wall hanging. It now hangs in the lounge room of his house.
Sometimes in L’Arche what we can do seems very small. I remember having a conversation with a house coordinator who put it this way, “when people asked me what I did today, I say “well I helped someone to get ready for work, I cleaned the house, had a rest, shared a cup of tea with someone and then helped to cook dinner”. Ron and his wall hanging remind us all that the seemingly small can mean really big things. Ron helps me to remember that in L’Arche we are a sign of something bigger.”
At present Stephen is living in Newcastle and is a Community and Board member of L’Arche Hunter. He wrote this story for My Home in L’Arche in 2014.
L’Arche Hunter… Bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilites
The next Community Gathering will be held at St Matthew’s Anglican Church on Saturday October 1 from 12-3pm