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KEEP THE FIRE BURNING

KEEP THE FIRE BURNING

By Peter Mwangi

Keeping the fire buringis was the theme of this year’s pilgrimage held on 27th March 2015. It was held in a religious shrine twenty kilometers south west of our community by the name of Subukia, Shrine of Mary.

The venue is a revered place for practicing Catholics and even though our community is ecumenical; all the members treat it with the respect it deserves.

We participated in many interesting activities including group work, lighting a symbolic fire and a climb to hill-top springs. The way to the springs is a beautiful prayer trail representing the way of the cross and was very appropriate as we were also in the period of lent and approaching Easter.

Unlike in many other years when only the “able” normally take the hike, this year all the “willing” did including those on wheelchair assisted by their colleagues.

It was truly a pilgrimage with a difference as the photos show.

 

L’Arche Kenya from a core-member’s perspective

Reflections by Samuel Mutahi and captured by Patrick Ndahi

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Its so heart warming that happiness never decreases by being shared in our two houses, Betania Home and Effatha Home, and in our Marleen workshops.

This pierce of writing is the result of a discussion I had with Samuel Mutahi, a core member of L’Arche Kenya, who is currently working in a Candle Workshop, which is one of the 5 Occupational Therapy (OT) workshops run by the community. Mutahi’s passion for candle making ticks, and listening to him explain the basics of making one, turns the task into a hobby.

The symbolism of candles is reflected in many ways in our religious and cultural traditions, but more importantly, a handmade candle lit in L’Arche community represents a love radiated by core members and their assistants in their living and working together in a spirit of welcome, sharing and simplicity.

Candles are made to burn, but even if they don’t, they still can be beautiful as decoration. In our daily living and working in the workshops, we discover the secret of what is unique in ourselves as core members and assistants. We also realize how each make a unique contribution to the wider community, and that we are not just people in the houses and working in the workshops; we are a part of the world with a message, a mission and a purpose.

Most of us enjoy the splendor and glory of candles. They are possible reminders of our possible triumph over darkness. In our community, we welcomed Dennis, Daniel and Claude in July, 2013 to our workshops as day-programme core members. They have been a source of joy to us as they reveal their value and beauty to us, and challenge us to be generous with our time, attention and tenderness. This year in January, we welcomed Alex to our day-care program, but also welcomed Dennis to Betania Home the very month.

When a candle burns, the melting wax on the candle in a way disfigures the candle, representing the risk of pain that exist in a love relationship. Community life is painful but it is also a marvelous adventure and a source of life. The presence of the likes of Dennis, Daniel, Mutahi and the other sixteen core members in our community reminds us of the fragility of human life.

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”, goes an old saying. But just as a candle cannot burn without fire, assistants and core members in L’Arche Kenya cannot love without a spiritual life. We base our trust in God in our daily working and walking together.    

Finally, there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflect it……

My colourful community

Refrections captured by Peter Gakunga.

Late in the year 2013, L’Arche Kenya core members got involved in a very interesting art presentation. This was after an invitation from the international Federation of L’Arche, during the 50th anniversary celebrations to showcase the diverse and artistic talents and illustrate the gift of L’Arche through the vision of people with learning disabilities.

After a series of artistic activities, L’Arche Kenya was faced with a task of choosing one item for submission to the online exhibition. There were so many entries and it was not easy to choose among them. Finally we settled for a work prepared by Michael Kariuki; a core member of L’Arche Kenya since 2009. The title of the work is MY COLOURFUL COMMUNITY

PAINTING-BY-MICHAEL-KARIUKI

The flowerbed of smiles

By Lucy Wambui.

As I take time to write this article, I wish it were possible to continue writing forever, for it is impossible to express the joy and love shared in L’Arche in a thousand years. If L’Arche were a farm, it would have been the biggest producer of love berries. People visit for a day and they always wish to come back and stay forever. Most of us, as human beings, we all want to eradicate poverty. This can only be achieved by being joyful and loving, which you will always find in L’Arche when you interact and share life with the brethren.

The diamonds among us

By Peter Mwangi.

A story is told of a farmer who once while watering his camels found a glassy looking stone in a riverbed. He collected it, took it to his house and placed it on top of the fireplace.

Sometime later, a guest visited him and “alas!” he exclaimed “What a big diamond you have here!” and the farmer was very perplexed.

The same happened to us recently. We have the biggest diamonds but may not have realized till someone pointed them to us. Two stories illustrate the point.