Life has a sneaky way of granting moments of collision with people whose stories have the power to remind us of what makes us human. Our Assistants Weekend, animated by Sue Mosteller, provided me with several such moments. Sue has a rich history with Daybreak, and anyone who spends enough time here is likely to hear about her and how much people enjoy her talks. Our theme for the Weekend was “Lighting Our Way”, and Sue spoke first about how we can be light for others, and then how we need light on our individual journeys.
Like many people there, I was deeply impacted by Sue’s time of sharing. There’s just something about the wisdom and richness of a life well-lived, and Sue is quite a gifted storyteller. She shared many nuggets of wisdom, but something she said really resonated with me: “We need to receive light in order to give it.” As she reminded us that core members are our teachers, modeling how to move from darkness to light, I had to face my own struggles with darkness, particularly fear. It was almost as if Sue read my mind, because she went on to speak about her own battles with fear—and that’s when we collided.
Before that weekend, with my limited knowledge of Sue, everything I had heard suggested she was nothing short of amazing. To be honest, I thought she must be a saint. But, as she spoke to us, she wasn’t just imparting insight, nor was she speaking from an elevated place. She graciously offered us her story, her struggles, her less-than-shiny parts, and revealed a vulnerability so powerful, it bumped right into the place at which I am most human.
It can be quite easy to idealise the L’Arche experience, be hard on ourselves for our failings, but Sue’s openness was my light that weekend. She reminded me that we all live through different rhythms and seasons, all hit a wall at some point, but we don’t have to stay on the floor. As we live in community, we become sources of light for each other—by walking together, we learn to stand again.
“Along the way, when your heart is stuck, find these sources of light, and keep going. You have it in you.” – Sue Mosteller
~ Lori-Ann Whyte
Lori-Ann has been an assistant at Church Street House since August 2014. She wrote this piece as a personal reflection on how Sue’s talks impacted her experience of living at L’Arche.
Sue Mosteller is a speaker, writer, and the Literary Executrix of the Henri Nouwen literary estate. She is a long-time member of L’Arche Daybreak, joining the community in 1972, just a few years after it started. Sue became the community leader in 1976 and went on to become the first person to succeed Jean Vanier as L’Arche International Coordinator.
Our annual Assistants Weekend is a time for Daybreak assistants to be together, to be inspired, and to have some fun. Sue Mosteller animated this year’s weekend, held on February 10 and 11th at the Dayspring Chapel.
Interested in Becoming an Assistant in L’Arche? Visit the L’Arche Canada recruitment website to find out more!