September 27th 2013- The day I found out I would be leading a trip to L’Arche with Annie; I had very little knowledge what L’Arche actually was
October 11th 2013- The day Jen Kline, aka Mama Bear, was announced as our accompanier and the dream team started to come to life; I still had little idea on what L’Arche was but was starting to do more research
October 25th 2013-The day the dream team was finalized and I found out who we were taking along with us on this unknown journey to the great white north; I started to understand L’Arche, but had no idea what we were going to encounter along this journey.
March 1st 2014- The dream team departs for L’Arche; the day my life would be changed forever
Marh 8th 2014- The day we departed from the most beautiful experience I could ask for, without a dry eye in the group we said our goodbyes and departed for Erie.
With all of these unknowns and new beginnings of friendship forming, through all the meetings, through all the planning, I wasn’t expecting or ready for what I was about to experience. In a single week at L’Arche, I learned more about who I am as an individual, and more about life as a whole than I have in my 20 years of living. This trip put my entire life and my entire being into perspective and I realized what I was taking for granted in life.
Starting this week I led a meditation about us being the light of the world and sharing our light with others throughout the week. Little did I know that I would be the one having the light shined upon me. I was expecting to give the talents and love that I had to offer, when in reality all I could do was receive the love, happiness and joy that every single member of L’Arche had to offer. All that needs to be said is celebration. This trip was a pure celebration of life itself.
What I learned throughout this week is that we all have our disabilities and are broken in some sort of way, however the difference between us and the core members is theirs is visible. You can see what struggles they have encountered, it is all on the surface, but with us we hide ours to appear “normal” in the public eye. What I learned this week is that we are all the same; we are all beautiful children of God. I saw the beautiful gifts that the core members had to offer through their high spirits, open hearts, and compassionate beautiful souls. They have the gift to share everything they have and to shine the light of the world on everyone they encounter.
As we depart for the final time, all I can say is thank you. Thank you to L’Arche for welcoming a goofy group of Gannon University students into their world. A thank you to my beautiful dream team for being the best group I could ever ask for. I went on this trip expecting to make a difference in a core member’s life. I leave this trip a changed man because of everyone I have encountered. I thank them for always having a smile, for breaking my shell to find out who I really am, and showing me what really matters in life. It isn’t the new phone, car or money; it’s the relationships you make and the love that you share with everyone that you encounter.
Signing off for the last time,
Chris and the Rest of the Toronto Dream Team