Michael Biornstad, L’Arche Portland Community Coordinator, gave the following remarks at the October 17, 2015 Benefit Celebration.
I moved into Neahkahnie house a year after finishing college. My experience of school had been that of a measured expectation of performance and ability. I was my intellectual capacity and my ability to articulate that knowledge into concise argument—preferably, a convincing one.
The implicit message that we are our creative capacity, our ability to produce or perform, is not exclusive to the college experience. “You are your achievements!” is a message that permeates society. How many of your colleagues stop by your desk to say, “Just want to let you know, all of this work aside, you are a marvelous person. Just as you are.”
I remember speaking with a priest and good friend after college and very shortly before entering L’Arche. I was lamenting a very felt burden of expectation and at a certain point in the conversation he turned to me and very gently said, “Michael, you’re a good man.” I had a volatile reaction. I rejected his words out of hand and stated that he didn’t know my motivations or my past and that he had no basis for saying such a thing.