17 April 2019, The Tablet

L’Arche in Bethlehem – together for life

L’Arche in Bethlehem – together for life

L’Arche life in Bethlehem
Photo: Elodie Perriot


For the l’Arche community in Bethlehem – a place of connection for Muslims and Christians with and without intellectual disabilities in a land of disconnect – celebrating the Resurrection is an everyday reality

Bethlehem, Palestine. Some call it the Holy Land. Others call it the Land of Doom. Palestinians simply call it home. At first glance, the community of L’Arche in Bethlehem, in Arabic Ma’an lil-Hayat (“Together for Life”), looks like a random group of people – young and not so young, women and men, city dwellers and those from villages and refugee camps, people with intellectual disabilities and those without, Muslims and Christians.

Yet, underneath the diversity, what brings this motley crew together is the recognition that we belong to each other as sisters and brothers created by God, and that it is through our relationships with each other that we can discover what it means to be truly human.

To create community in a land destabilised by the tension, insecurity, fear and aggression of a decades-long military occupation is either sheer folly or profound blessing. But take one step across the threshold of Ma’an lil-Hayat and you’ll understand that folly and blessing are not mutually exclusive. In a land of disconnect, this is a community of connection, of relationship. The community’s life together nourishes these connections, creating a contagious experience of inclusion and peace in an environment where tension and fear often reign. It’s vital to connect – with ourselves, with each other, with the people and world around us, with God.

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