by Maria Fitzgerald, Homes Coordinator of L’Arche St. Louis
The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber believed that the basis of human existence is relationships: relationships with each other, with the world around us, and with God. This is why he wrote, “All real living is meeting.” He believed that to be truly human is to encounter and be in mutual relationship with one another, person to person.
In the 50+ years since L’Arche was founded in France, we have worked to live and announce this belief to the world. Mutual relationships are at the heart of our lives together.
But to truly encounter and be in relationship with the “other” means continually growing in openness, respect, and vulnerability. Last week, Nanday and I traveled to Detroit to meet with L’Arche assistants and leadership for a four-day formation on “Diversity and Inclusion.” We shared stories about ourselves, struggles in our communities, times we felt seen, times we did not feel heard. We looked at L’Arche with a critical eye and discussed ways our own communities have fallen short of welcome and openness. Times when being “different” from the L’Arche mainstream culture left us feeling uncertain of our place in community.
The four days were packed with meaningful conversations and challenging questions. Nanday and I returned to St. Louis with new friends from around the country, and also new tools to facilitate brave spaces and vulnerable conversations here at home.