Letters of L'Arche 123: Relationships
Relationships! Not an easy topic. The word purports to be light and fun and cosy. And yet, it can also be synonym for confusion, fear, and pain. It invites us to proximity and intimacy, and yet, it can be source of distance and conflict. We are in the realm of persons, personality and psychology, but also of groups, cultures and sociology. At L’Arche – and elsewhere – we certainly add God, spirituality and theology to this list. We let our hearts and our bodies speak, and at the same time, numerous researchers of all types of academic disciplines have used their minds so that we may understand in part, at least, what heart and body are going through.
Well, then, where do we start? And how do we tackle this? The topic is everything but new to us. The Federation has indeed decided to make relationships one of its keywords. Yet, the goal of this issue is not to reaffirm what is known and what the Federation has extensively thought about during the Identity and Mission process. In the usual manner of the Letters of L’Arche, our authors put forth their perspectives and priorities, in a mix of theory and testimony, of presentation without words and of conversation around words.
Géry de Radiguès’ article challenges us with a number of academic thoughts on the art of communications, without which relationships would be impossible. We know that scientific language, abstract concepts and analysis are not common in the Federation. Let us know if you appreciate this new style in the Letters of L’Arche! Back again, down to earth, Andrea Riester invites us to discover “relationships of a different type” in Burkina Faso. Pamela Cushing and John Sumarah give us insight into the discussion of the anthropology meeting held in Toronto early this summer. There is, as always, a conversation with one of our international leaders. This time, it is Jean-Christophe Pascal, who steps out of his role as International Coordinator to share a bit of himself and his thoughts. Tobias Gerken tries to dismantle the relationship that links assistants and leaders in L’Arche. And then, in order to counterbalance all these words and thoughts, you will find photos from Lyn Dowling throughout the issue and in the Notice Board section. Thanks to her camera, we are all invited to enter moments of relationships that she was able to capture in the Australian communities.
You may have noticed that the last issue did not have the usual “Portrait” of a person with an intellectual disability. As we are trying to be more conscious about the contribution of our “core members” to our communications, meetings and decision-making processes, I am particularly grateful for Kasia’s and Basia’s contribution to this issue, a contribution that is to remind us, both in form and in contents, of what L’Arche is all about.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Jean Vanier who continues to be both faithful to the Letters of L’Arche and inspiring for so many of its readers.
The themes of the next three issues of the Letters of L’Arche are Belonging, Commitment and Kolkata ’08! Contact us if you wish to contribute to any of these issues!