Making the World a Smaller Place
by Elisa Stene Carrothers, Farm & Gardens grower and long term community member
Starting at the top of the hill, we walked and rolled… two by two… our own little parade. Miguel and Juanita led with a L’Arche banner. “El Arca! El Arca! Ra! Ra! Ra!” We sang and cheered while rattling plastic bottles filled with dry beans, noise blowers, tambourines, recorders, and what ever else we could find. Police cars escorted us, to protect us from local traffic. People peered out their windows and doors to see what all the commotion was, and then greeted us with warm waves and smiles. We walked and wheeled our friends for a long time. At last we ended our pilgrimage with mass in the church at the bottom of the hill.
I was blessed recently with the opportunity to travel down to Mexico City for a L’Arche Interzone retreat. Thirty members of L’Arche in the Americas gathered together, reaching from Canada to Argentina. We silently focused on our commitment to our people, to the truth, to L’Arche and to God. Richard Bower, pastoral minister of L’Arche USA, and Robert Larouche, community leader of Amos Canada and founder of L’Arche Haiti, presented throughout the week. It was an amazing experience to gather together with a group of people living out the same mission, but with different flavors and experiences. Within the week and between the silences we were able to build relationships and see first hand the solidarity of L’Arche. The retreat culminated (as is tradition) with a foot washing service and a Fiesta. My new friend, Rosemary Almeida, community leader in Brazil, washed my feet, and suddenly the world was a much smaller place!
When the retreat ended many assistants, including myself, stayed to participate in a small tour of the city. We visited the cathedrals, climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, and had a fiesta with the L’Arche community in Mexico City.
The real gift of the trip came at the end. I took a three hour bus ride to Queretaro, to visit the community there. Queretaro is our sister community, and we are well paired! Upon entering the community I immediately felt as though I was home. This is where I participated in the pilgrimage mentioned earlier, and met some of the most wonderful people. Jose, brought my bags up to my room, and showed me how to feed the chickens and rabbits they had in their back yard. Moisis, tried to teach me Spanish, and showed me his Michael Jackson impressions. Rosio caught a random pigeon off the street and carried it around in a shirt/blanket all afternoon. Bertha greeted me with a smile and let me help with her night routine. And of course, Chavo, community leader of Queretaro, who spent time in our Tacoma community, added his outgoing energy, making everyone feel special and important. Chavo would pop up with a Jimbo, Nancy, or Kai saying, revealing how close our community is held to his own heart. I was only in the Queretaro community for three days, but it was difficult to say goodbye when the time came. I sincerely hope that the relationships between our two communities can continue to grow and deepen. We have so much to learn and share with each other.
I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity of this experience. I often find myself daydreaming about baking bread with Jose and making beaded jewelry with Miguel in their new workshop. I desperately hope to someday return and live
those daydreams out. I would like to thank all who made it possible for me go and participate. The time is deeply imprinted in my own journey of L’Arche.