No Community Without Celebrations

We arrived to the Ark at the day of the celebration. Not because of our arrival, but because of Daniele’s birthday.

A place to celebrate

Barka praznovanje
Party at Shalom

Much is celebrated at the Ark. In fact, the celebration has traditionally been one of the most important elements of each Ark community. Here is what the Ark’s founder Jean Vanier wrote about the celebrations:

Nowadays, people no longer know how to celebrate and dine together. In some families, members dine by themselves, at different times. Everyone is busy with their own projects, food is consumed very quickly. If we want to create unity and live as one body, we should be able to take the time for a common meal with good food and drink. We need to know how to tell stories, to share our experience, laugh and sing together. (Jean Vanier)

At the same table

This is why the sweetest things happen during meals and celebrations at the Ark. As we gather around the same table, we tell stories, jokes, you are given food and we pay attention to each other.

Time has stopped for Daniele

And birthdays, especially a milestone ones as Daniele’s, are generally large events for the whole community. This is how we entered the ark, on the day when all were focused on Daniele’s 40th birthday, a boy with Down’s syndrome. His presence, energy, joy and cheerfulness give great impact to the entire house.

Everyone by himself, but tied to a core

Afterwards Dalila, one of the assistants in the house, showed us our little room, where we put away our backpacks, we were quickly coupled with the scene.

By the way, Silva and me decided to stay in separate rooms. The first and main reason is that even couples from inside the Ark community do not live together, although them might wish to. In order not to make ourselves different, we will respect this house rule as well.

On the other hand, this is the way to avoid the risk to separate ourselves from the community and do not experience it to the full extent possible.

Daniel, accepting his friends’ birthday gifts

Tanti Auguri

That Monday was therefore extremely dynamic. The Ulivo (Olive) – this is the name of the place we and Daniele are staying, was full of visitors: friends of the Ark, assistants from other Ark houses and volunteers. They all congratulated Daniele with “Auguri”, giving away gifts and taking pictures with him…

It’s my birthday today!

Daniele, dressed in a jacket and festive dress was obviously very busy. He was running from one corner of the house to another, up and down the stairs, hugging people and, of course, he was hasten to explain everybody about his birthday, about being forty and about the whole community celebrating with him on this occasion. He’s told us all about it at least five times in an hour. 🙂

Shalom and a sense of celebrations

Shalom is ready, let the party begin!

The spacious room called ‘Shalom‘ on the other side of the community is where intense preparations were carried on in the meantime. Arranging the dining room, decorations, napkins, cutlery, everything that is necessary for such a celebration.

With Italians, I particularly admire their sense of organization, especially when it comes to preparing meals and celebrations. I remember when we were previously informed about this by Marcus in Perugia.

Party in Shalom has started at 6 PM with music, dancing, singing, followed by a dinner seating and a cake, continuing with a slideshow of Daniele’s pictures from his birth to the present day and ended with Daniel’s half-an-hour speech and PRAYER by heart. Very well-thought scenario indeed.  🙂

Feels like home…

Daniele, thanking for the community, friends and gifts.

We could’t wish for a more beautiful introduction to Ark’s life. The Arkers immediately accepted us as their own and made us feel like home from the first moment on.

Marinella, who is responsible for Ark’s volunteers, discussed with us about our stay at the Ark, about our expectations, and the most important part, of course, how much time we are planning to stay here.

Community needs help

After some consideration, we decided that we would stay longer than originally planned, so we extended our three weeks to two and a half months. Not only because we can thus have a deeper experience of everyday life in the community, but also because the community really needs the help of volunteers and assistants. In addition, we have planned a few important meetings in Rome. One is scheduled on Wednesday at the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).

So our fifteen days planned for volunteering at the Cotolengo hospital in Turin are postponed to the middle of July. But there is still quite some time left until that day.

Would you travel to Rome?

Let me do a little advertising for Chicco (Ark’s community here in Rome). Because of their lack of resources, they had to decide to empty the third house, which previously housed persons with disability and their assistants.

A few months ago, they moved to Ulivo, vacant house is now devoted to visitors as affordable Bed & Breakfast stay. Anyone who would like to visit Rome, may spend a night at the Ark. The city center is only 25 km away and the train station to Rome (Roma Termini) is very close-by the community.

A celebration – the ultimate goal of mankind

I may end now with another thought by Jean Vanier on celebrations and festivities:

The celebration is an expression of ultimate goal of humanity. We were created to share and celebrate the joy and the prosperity of every human being. The Bible compares the end of time to the wedding celebration between humanity and God, in ecstasy, joy and celebration. (Jean Vanier)

Your comments, questions and experiences are very welcomed (below the article).

You may also read Silva’s weekly prayer A Heart, Broken by Love.


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