Monday, April 3, 2017

visit to L'Arche

My friend Denis chose a good bottle of wine from his cave, like the good Frenchman that he is,

and we set off for lunch in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue at the home of Dan and Magali. I'm here partly to revisit my past for the memoir I'm now writing, about my four months in 1979 working in the L'Arche community of which Denis was the director. When I learned that 3 of the handicapped men from that time still lived there, I wanted to visit, plus Magali also was there with me and still works there. She was 20 then, and I turned 29. Later she married Dan, who's from Texas and came to volunteer at L'Arche, and had 3 children. They have a lovely house next to the community; we had our aperitif outside under the trees and a fabulous meal inside.
And then we went to visit the community, Le Moulin de L'Auro, which is now huge. In my time there were 8 handicapped men; now there are scores of people of both sexes, many staff, big workshops, two homes. Extraordinary, an absolutely wonderful place. Best of all - my dear friend Jean-Luc, who changed my life. You'll have to read the book to discover how. That's him in the middle. Seeing him again made me cry.
Magali got out some photo albums, and one of them, it turned out, was a scrapbook I'd made for the community before I left, with pictures and captions. We discovered this picture of the entire community of that time. So long ago - and yet, seeing Jean-Luc who has hardly changed, no time at all.
Seven of the handicapped men, five assistants including Magali at the end, your faithful correspondent, and Denis, the tall one below. I'm the one shading her eyes and wearing overalls. I'd forgotten the overalls.

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