a number of summers ago when i was serving with l'arche daybreak, my house manager told me that the positive attitudes of the overwhelming majority of our core members* was one of the primary reasons she loved l'arche. "people often think that the disabled are happy because they don't know any better," she said "but i find that perspective incredibly insulting." "you'll find," she continued, "that our core members are intimately acquainted with their challenges and limitations, but they choose happiness and contentment anyway."
obviously, not every person with challenges is either happy or content. in fact, while waiting for the bus in a little smoke-filled shelter this morning i endured a blind man's bitching, cursing and complaining for the better part of an hour. however, most of my clients forgo cynicism for optimism and, for that reason, not a few of them are living testaments of hope.
uncle henri always reminded us that "the poor are our teachers." right now, my teachers are challenging me to exchange my cynicism for hope and my sarcasm for words of life. here's to hoping that i'm an attentive student.
* in l'arche lingo, core members are people with intellectual and physical disabilities who stand at the center and bind the community together.