Celebrating your birthday in a L’Arche Community is very special


Christelle has been a volunteer in our community for over a year and is now working a few hours a week at The Cornerstone to bring support to the team. Christelle writes;

” Leaving my country and having migrated to England a year earlier was unexpected in itself, but what was really extraordinary was to find myself and my husband invited by the L’Arche Ipswich community to celebrate my birthday.

It was during that celebration that I came to understand the deeper meaning of L’Arche. We sat around a huge table, which was complete with decorations and different ways of communicating ‘Happy Birthday, Christelle.’ People were laughing and there was a sense of life. Who I thought, around this table, is the most disabled? This, I realised, was difficult to know. For me, this is what L’Arche is about – the being and living together – without distinction.

L’Arche birthday celebrations follow a simple, beautiful, recipe. A home-cooked meal, the birthday person’s favourite cake with candles and the magical and moving moment at the end of the meal where each person – holding a candle that is passed around the
table – gives thanks for knowing the birthday person. It makes you realise, and feel through your whole body, that you are valued. It helps you to know that your presence is more important than you think and that what is most important in life is the ‘here and now.’

Regardless of our vulnerability, our disabilities, our emotional baggage, we all have something to offer. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about L’Arche is coming to recognise how much we also receive… more than we could ever imagine! “