Countries at War, Communities at Peace

by Sara Ellet

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

In the wake of the events of recent weeks my attention has been captivated by the Scripture above. My mind has been very aware of that the media gives attention to some tragic events while other events receive little coverage.

My heart, however, has been mostly captivated by the question of what “kingdom” I am truly a part.

I live and work in the L’Arche community in Clinton, Iowa, which is part of an international federation of L’Arche communities around the world. I have L’Arche brothers and sisters in both Syria and France. I have L’Arche brothers and sisters in Kenya, Japan, Palestine, and Egypt. I have L’Arche brothers and sisters in Canada and Mexico. I have L’Arche brothers and sisters in more than 35 countries on 6 continents around the world.

Within these countries there are a vast number of military, political, social, and economic realities being lived and experienced each and every day. All of these factors are different for each person around the world.

Sara Ellet and John Olsen find a light in the darkness by roasting marshmallows indoors. Photo by Sara Ellet

Sara Ellet and John Olsen shine a light in the darkness by roasting marshmallows indoors. Photo by Sara Ellet

Sometimes L’Arche life feels like a bit of a separation from the rest of the world. People with and without intellectual disabilities in L’Arche everywhere share in simple task of cooking, cleaning, passing medications, packing lunches, assisting with baths, providing transportation—the list of everyday tasks go on and on. The countries where our communities are geographically located are often at war with each other. Yet, as a member of a L’Arche community, I can love my L’Arche brothers and sisters around the world regardless of their political, social, economic, or religious views. We can still eat, pray, and celebrate together.

L’Arche does not conform to the pattern of the world, where difference equals discord. Instead, our communities serve as signs of hope and light. L’Arche in Syria has been a light in a dark place. L’Arche in Palestine is another sign of hope. L’Arche in Clinton, Iowa, is a sign of hope, too.

Could it be that shining a light in darkness is part of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will?

Sara Ellet currently serves as training coordinator for L’Arche Clinton. She came to L’Arche in August 2012 as a founding assistant with L’Arche Atlanta. Sara is from Huntington, Indiana, and hold a BS from Huntington University and a MA from Memphis Theological Seminary. She enjoys spending time walking, hiking, kayaking, and relaxing in a hammock. She also enjoys playing percussion and dropping in at the L’Arche homes to playfully interrupt the core members.