Imagine a river, running past your house. How cool and refreshing the water looks. A tree stands there. It depends on the water for its life, and in turn gives shade and life to other creatures. The earth can gather there. Falling leaves are soon carried away to far off places. Imagine many trees, each drawing life from the same river. And the river is called Peace. And it carries millions of leaves across the world. And “the leaves of each tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22. 2). Some leaves connect Hungary to Slovenia, others Zimbabwe with Germany, Brussels with Haiti, or Canada with Ukraine. In the colourful variety of trees, among literally millions of communities and families all drawing life from the great River of Peace, one is called L’Arche.
Can the leaves of L'Arche ‘heal nations?’ It seems unlikely. We are so small. But perhaps each person has their own way of giving peace a chance. For Steve in Brecon, it’s a friendly wave to drivers passing his house. For another, unable to move, peace-making is just a smile, or a sound. For someone else, it’s picking up some litter on the walk to work. Why? To connect with the unknown litter-droppers, of course! Peace-making is a little thing, but so creative- and courageous! And each way offers a glimpse of a more humane world.
In L'Arche, peace-making starts with our welcome. Who could calculate its effect? A reporter once wrote: “We investigative reporters tend to see ourselves as macho: ‘I investigated this situation, I reported about it, and I changed it’. L'Arche was different: ‘I investigated it, I reported about it, and it changed me.’”
Our hope is that each visitor discovers something truly beautiful. About our world, about others, about God, about themselves: an ability to listen; courage to speak; their own inner joy. A life transformed is the key to release the healing of nations. Yes, to make peace, we need to believe in the hidden power of small things. Look at Haiti, where L'Arche was a close witness to the earth’s violence. Initially, destruction reigned. But soon little leaves of peace started arriving from all directions, bringing new hope, healing and building. How to keep it going?
Let’s start with something as small as a smile! It is the 10.30 Mass on All Saints’ Day. Françoise and her aged mother are there. At a certain point, her mother wants to take her coat off. Françoise starts helping her. The woman behind leans forward and gently helps Françoise to remove it. Françoise looks at her and a smile is exchanged. In helping Françoise’s mother, the helpful lady’s own scarf has fallen to the floor. So the man behind her, (a disabled member of L'Arche) bends and picks it up. Another exchange of smiles. And to think that this little cascade of smiles started flowing from the simple need of Françoise’ mother. My turn next... how to keep this cascade of smiles going? That is always the question... how far can this thing go? Can it reach Haiti? And can their smile reach us?
Enjoy your reading!
International Communications Coordinator