The Spirit Movers dance troupe lost one of it’s shining lights on January 8 2018. Becky Till had been a member of the group for many years, traveling to Richmond Hill from her home every Friday to perform and dance at the Dayspring at L’Arche Daybreak. Chris Jarvis, a former Dayspring Coordinator wrote the following reflection to honour her life.
The Dayspring houses many groups and activities – Daybreak assistant and core member groups, board meetings, worship services, training sessions, youth retreats, holiday parties. It is a mansion of sorts with many ways and places to dwell. But perhaps the greatest of these places is found every Friday when the members of the Spirit Movers slowly walk and roll in to spend the day together in dance. It was in this context that I often encountered Becky and came to know her remarkable gifts of building community.
Let me read you the third of three short statements which make up the l’Arche identity statement: “We celebrate the unique value of each person and recognize our need of one another.”
This recognition unfolds in the fundamental arc of our days, weeks, and years in community at Daybreak. It involves the fruits of unpredictable and awkward moments in relationship. It gains clarity as friendships form and deepen. Perhaps nowhere else is this recognition as fully realized as during the dances of the Spirit Movers. Their dances would not make sense without their need of one another.
It seems to me that recognizing how one needs another involves an extension and receiving of gifts. This is no consumeristic transaction. This is a tender gesture of provision and sustenance. It is a sacred pattern, offering and nourishment. It is the mother holding her daughter. It is the farmers bread that becomes the Eucharistic body. It is the listening ear and wise response of an old friend. It is the nurse tending to discomfort and need through care. It is the energy transmitted by the gleam of a bright eye.
Jean Vanier writes,
“Nourishment comes in those moments when the whole community becomes aware of the current of life which flows through it.”
Becky was a great conductor of this current for her many communities, including Daybreak. I was witness to countless young people receiving nourishment in indescribable ways by watching and then dancing near Becky and her partners.
And this nourishment was not possible without first receiving the offering of Becky’s multitude of gifts; among them presence, joy, radiance, honesty. Her gifts are not just available because of community, they are the raw materials from which we build community.
Peter Block, a well known American author, community organizer, and peace-builder, writes this about the interaction of gifts and community: “The focus on gifts confronts people with their essential core, that which has the potential to make difference and change lives for good.”
Becky’s essential core, in the context of her different communities, actualized this potential. She did, and does, make a difference. She has and will continue to change lives for the good.
Becky’s family and friends offered gifts, and she was nourished. Becky offered hers and we were nourished. And together we now recognize the indispensable gift of her vocation in this beautiful cycle of mutuality.
It is a cycle dear friends that does not end with Becky’s death. The stories before from her friends and those to come from the Tills perpetuate what Becky has given us. Her legacy is now our need of each other, recognized through sharing the grief, joy, humour, and poignancy of our encounters with her.
Let us give thanks for this most remarkable woman and the unrepeatable grace of her life. Let us give thanks for the communities she helped build and through which she offered so much. Let us give thanks for all the ways she continues to call us to offer ourselves and nourish one another.
~ Chris Jarvis