04/07/2024

By Dom Every 

I joined L'Arche back in 2019. Just before COVID and the Lockdowns. And before I was married with two kids. Goodness what a time it's been!  

I found L'Arche at a time when I craved something meaningful, engaging, and enriching. Looking back, I realise I carried more baggage than I knew. L'Arche, in its own unique way, helped me heal those wounds and turn them into strengths. 

Crispin was the first core member (member of L’Arche with a learning disability) I had the pleasure of getting to know and he taught me so much. The fact I can talk for two people never surprised me. But poor Crispin has handled more than most. So he taught me that I'm maybe just a bit interesting or at least tolerable for half a day!

The culture in L'Arche healed parts of me I didn't know needed healing.

Seriously though, Crispin was a massive reason I stayed in L'Arche and someone who welcomed me into his life in a way many of us will never have the chance to be welcomed. The vulnerability, trust and the patience he must have had – and continues to have – is immense.  

Crispin taught me what being an assistant is and how we can transform our lives through mutual relationship, openness, humility and vulnerability. Perhaps more importantly, he taught me how to apply the same attention and curiosity I had for him to others.  

He taught me that my ADHD, dyslexia and anxieties should be viewed not as limitations, but as unique aspects of myself.  

I learned through mutual relationship and time that disabilities and neurodivergence are not disabling. Rather, the lack of support and sincerity, accommodations and environmental conditions are disabling. 

I learned to understand and embrace my differences within myself, which have made me a better assistant. Many people in L’Arche took a chance on me, saw potential in me even when I doubted myself.

A friend once described L'Arche as a "baptism by fire," and they weren't wrong. It's messy, chaotic, and constantly challenging, but in the best way possible. It's also breathtaking, empowering, and welcoming in a way that is completely disarming. So much so that the L’Arche culture has healed parts of myself I didn't know needed healing.

Taking a rest on a long walk

Crispin was the first "core member" of L'Arche I met

Taking in the mountains together