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Saturday, June 24th
The truth we see today is that humanity is one global family. In L’Arche, thanks to our presence in 37 countries, we are privileged to see this truth in close-up. Each culture is precious, each is developing, and we can learn from each other.
L’Arche bring the world together to try to build a community. It’s the way to go.
Te Aroha, te whakapono, me te rangimarie tatou tatou e
Who knows what these words mean? If you are a Maori from New Zealand, you will have a big advantage. But the rest of us? Well, the rest of us just sang along anyway, this morning in Belfast, mostly without fully knowing the meaning – and not just because it was a pretty catchy tune.
First, we sang because we really wanted to enter the spirit of blessing, both for Patrick and Eileen as they took off their captain’s caps for the last time, and for Stephan and Stacy as they assume responsibility for the Federation for the coming five years. And for Alison, the chairperson of the International Stewardship Board, and the four new members.
We sang a Maori song of blessing for all of them. According to our constitution, the Federation Assembly has authority to approve the international reports, the 2017-22 mandate and to appoint new International Leaders and Board members: a solemn and shared responsibility. In Belfast here this morning, we took that responsibility. And then we sang our solidarity, hands on our neighbours’ shoulders. It’s a powerful gesture of support, when over 500 people from 37 countries gather in one place to do that, knowing we are representing thousands of others right around the world.
Te Aroha, te whakapono, me te rangimarie tatou tatou e.
Secondly, we sang as an act of great trust. Trust in…
…the people guiding the process that has now led us to appoint these leaders, and approve these reports, launch this mandate.
…our future journey together with our new leaders.
…each other, hearts open to an unknown, but always promising future.
Te Aroha, te whakapono, me te rangimarie tatou tatou e. Wherever you are, we are together.
“You make a path by walking…”
These are the words of Ruth Patterson, Presbyterian minister and Belfast peace-maker to us this afternoon. And the only way you can build a global community of peace is by actually living together. Not necessarily under one roof, that is obvious. But here’s the thing: we don’t need to work everything out in advance. It’s not at all about getting everything right: paths really are made by walking.
And we make the path together. Much like the mirror dances we’ve just done. Your partner’s right hand moves into the air and waves. You follow. The head looks around. You look round. The trick is not rocket science: Pay close attention and just do your best.
The old paths can sometimes take us round in circles. New paths are not a luxury, they are a necessity: “I’ve been a victim. I’ve been a survivor. Now I want to live.” A lady had said this to Ruth. They are just two of L’Arche’s many dancing partners and path-makers.
One new path has led L'Arche to listen to the Muslim voices in communities. Patrick Fontaine shared the story of these meetings. Where will this path lead? We do not know. All we know is that if L'Arche is as diverse as it is, then it is not for nothing! It must be connected with helping the world to live well its diversity.
Let’s be honest: that’s no small task: but in the words of Nicholas Herd, core member from Canada and actor in Sol Express: “You can do it if you believe you can!”