It is a bit hard for me to accept that the van and its story are rolling on without me. It is like knowing that the story of life on earth will continue without me after I am gone.
Following John’s two nights in Seattle’s Virginia Mason Hospital, Thursday and Friday, I agreed on Saturday, with the okay of leadership back home, to return with John to Massachusetts by plane early in the coming week.
I know this is the right decision. John seemed very weak all the time he was in hospital, and none of us want to expose him—66 years old, small and frail in appearance, possibly beset by a virus—to the further rigors of the road. Of the assistants on this journey, I am closest to John and I have “accompanied” him (a L’Arche term) almost since his first arrival in community at the end of September 2016.
To leave a journey that I took such a big part in planning—and that I have almost singlehandedly documented—is a bit painful, frankly, and seems very like surrender; but in a strange and beautiful way, it also brings me closer to my favorite saint, Joseph, whose life in Nazareth after the drama of Jesus’s early days—the flight to Egypt, etc.—will always be hidden to us.
We can assume that Joseph cared for Jesus in Nazareth even though no one was there to record this “hidden life.” Just so, I will bring John back without further commentary on the van and its travels. Others will have to do the writing and the story-telling for “L’Arche Across America,” as they did about Jesus’s public ministry in the Gospels.
There will almost certainly be other, bigger stories in the days ahead. Will Woody meet the ghost of Jim Morrison? Will Frannie, who joins the party in LA, have a ball at Disneyland? Will Todd make a killing at blackjack when the crew reaches Vegas? Will Jane make more friends for L’Arche as she did in Minnesota?
These stories will have to be told by other narrators. You can follow them on Instagram (L’Arche Boston North #larcheacrossamerica). As for me, I am signing off for now.
On Saturday night, following a vigil mass, we and members of L’Arche Seattle enjoyed a raucous, joyful feast in the parish hall of St. Joseph Church in Seattle. There were yummy tacos. There was karaoke. The photo shows John and Shonda dressing up for the photo booth.
John looks hale and hearty, right? Yeah, well, not so much.
So let me sign off for now with the title of one of my favorite films: Zero Dark 30.
PS. Don’t worry. No one can shut me up for long. Within a few hours of this posting, I will probably be full of beans about something or other. This is one very big thing that St. Joe and I do not have in common.