“I guess I didn’t go there enough,” a friend said after her favorite restaurant closed. She wasn’t being arrogant, as if she alone could have saved the restaurant; she was talking about the choices she had made and the consequences of those choices.
My friend’s comment got me thinking about the choices I make and if my choices give witness to what I say is important to me.
I began to pay more attention to where I spend my time and money, and I came to see that where I go—the places where I literally put my body—gives witness to what I value and believe.
Matthew 25:31-46 shaped my early relationship with Jesus. This scripture passage instructed me to put my body at the service at the most vulnerable people in my community, and I took seriously the call to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit those in prison. I wanted to live this scripture faithfully, and after college I explored different options.
On my first visit to l’Arche, while praying in the chapel, I asked God for a sign if I was meant to live in this community. Two community members entered the chapel and sat on either side of me. They closed their eyes and bowed their heads in silent prayer.
It felt like a sign.
At the time, I thought that my deep desire to live the mandate of Matthew 25:31-46, along with past training and work experience, made me an ideal candidate to live in l’Arche. I saw myself as some sort of bearer of the Good News, bringing all my knowledge of what people with disabilities needed to make their lives more meaningful.
It didn’t take long after moving to l’Arche, though, to realize that what I thought of as my gifts were really stumbling blocks.
I had some dark days in l’Arche, when I felt completely powerless and near despair, and I cried out to God, “I didn’t have to move here; I could have learned this from a book.”
But the truth was that I needed to be in that place, stripped of my professional reputation and public persona, so that I could see that I, too, am one of the “least” that Matthew was talking about—that I, too, needed to be fed and clothed and cared for.
One particularly dark day I told my spiritual director that I felt like I was falling apart.
“No,” she said. “I think you are falling together.”
“Let go,” God seemed to be saying to me—of my need to be in control, to be right, to know better.
Once I accepted myself as powerless, God could work with me.
l’Arche taught me that Matthew 25:31-46 invites me to do more than stand beside vulnerable people; it invites me to see myself as one of the “least,” because standing is my vulnerability allows God to love and heal me.