In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of L’Arche Daybreak we are publishing contributions, stories and photos that illustrate the gifts of our community.
When Henri Nouwen died suddenly in 1996, his family decided that his body should return to Daybreak to be buried with members of the community. At the Woodery, we decided to make Henri a casket. During the days while we waited for Henri’s return, we realized that many community members had no creative outlet for their grief, so we invited everyone to draw something to decorate it. Many people offered their art, and I carefully painted each person’s contribution onto the lid of our homemade casket. We buried Henri in this gloriously beautiful piece of communal art.
A couple of years later when the new Dayspring was being built, Daybreak asked me to use the same community process to paint two-sided decorative doors for the chapel. Again, art flooded in! Nearly every core member at Daybreak offered something and I included all of it. I also used art by members of the community who had died, as well as art from the Ignatius Farm Community in Guelph and from L’Arche in Honduras.
The doors are a riot of colour and detail, like our lives together in L’Arche. Very few of the individual contributions were outstanding works of art by themselves, but together they are magnificent. In my seven years at Daybreak, I experienced the same thing. Our daily lives often didn’t feel like anything much, but the overall meaning of all those individual acts of commitment and love and hilarity added up to something spectacular, our shared life together.
Carolyn (Carrie) Whitney-Brown and her family were members of Daybreak from 1990-97.