By Sr. Meg Kymes
Every month the L’Arche community in Frederick gathers for a time of fun and community building. As part of the planning committee for the L’Arche community, I come to these monthly gatherings as much as possible. People with disabilities, their families, youth group members, college students, as well as the planning committee gather in the parish gym at St. Katharine Drexel parish in Frederick.
Sunday's second reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians speaks of how all are necessary to carry out Christ’s mission on Earth. He says, “Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary...God has so constructed the body...so that there maybe no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.” When I was reflecting on this passage I recalled a recent experience I had.
This past month, I left my house in Emmitsburg tired from a day of teaching to make the 30 minute drive to St. Katharine Drexel telling myself, “You need to be there.” Slipping into my pajamas then watching the nightly news and Blue Bloods seemed much more appealing than an hour round trip drive and a night of being social with 65 or so other people. Nonetheless I went.
Pat, another member of the planning committee had planned a night of luau themed events. This included a lesson on hula, decorating Hawaiian themed cookies, lei making, and a limbo contest. Slowly throughout the first half hour of the event people trickled in from the rainy evening. Some came with a big smile on their faces and with a big hug to offer random other guests, others came reluctantly, clinging to the arm of their caregivers. After some time of finishing last minute preparations and adding extra tables and chairs for late coming guests Pat pulled me aside to ask if I could help her with reading the story to go with the hula lesson. I enthusiastically agreed. When I picked up the microphone and began to read the story I was in my element. I read slowly and clearly just as I do when I read a story with my own students. I watched in amusement as Pat led the steps to the hula with the other community members speeding up or slowing down the pace of her movements to the tone of the story. I saw the growing smiles on the faces of those who were participating and even the excited screeches of a few of the guests whose disabilities are more severe.
After the hula I greeted a man who went to the same daily Mass as my Sisters and me. He commented on how much his son was enjoying himself and complimented Pat on how successful the evening was going. After some small talk he mentioned he had found a work program for his son to participate in since he was too old now for school. I told him I was glad to hear that since we had been praying for them. He mentioned his fear that this would not work out since at times his son could be violent. I told him about my own cousin and her struggles with finding placement for her son who also has a disability. I encouraged him to be honest with the program and trust that God would send the right person to work with his son if this was God’s will. He thanked me for my advice and gave me a hug. Pat announced we were going to close with the L’Arche tradition of singing This Little Light of Mine. We all gathered in a circle and sang together then went our separate ways.
On my way home I reflected and prayed over the evening. I remembered how I had to coax myself to leave the house to come to the L’Arche gathering that night. I recalled the line from our song, “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine!” I realized that I may not be a social butterfly like some of our other committee members or have lots of experience with people with disabilities, but I do have my own experiences and talents to offer. God gave me my own gifts of reading and listening to share that evening. Without those talents, the night would not have been the same. It may have worked out, but as St. Paul said, “...the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary…” No matter how small or weak we may seem in the eyes of the world, the Lord needs us just as much as anyone else to spread his love to the world.