John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Friday 6th June 2008

Rest Day – 0 miles
Weather sunny and dry

I had arranged to go into the L'Arche office in Edinburgh at 10.00, but didn't mange to make it before 11.00 am, so missed seeing Michael Bentham a UK Team member with whom I worked closely and who had been attending a meeting of the local management committee the night before. I was sorry to hear Robin Watt the Chair had been in hospital and do hope he is soon on the road to recovery.

My rest day hadn't been filled with planned activities so I spent the morning writing my blog and the afternoon uploading photos to illustrate the trip. This blogging business is remarkably easy, so thanks Steve for setting it all up for me. Steve's the resident techno whizzo in Silsden who brings calm and order during computer user meltdown. That's a real gift.

Jane Salmonson, the L'Arche Overseas Development Co-ordinator, came in after lunch, so it was good to review fundraising progress and plan a few new approaches. Quicky running out of time, I made a telephone call to my old Primary School, St. Peter's Falcon Gardens and left a message with the head teacher's secretary asking if the school might consider sponsoring the Bike Ride. Friday afternoon's not the best time to be ringing schools – it would have been better to go in personally this morning. There were also telephone calls to make to arrange onward accommodation, and I was relieved to secure a bed in Fort William. I had given up the idea of visiting friends in Edinburgh, as I really wanted to spend as much time with Community members.

One of the founding members, George, is moving to his own flat shortly which is a wonderful. I remember visiting the house when George first arrived, and how he opened the door to me and held up a key. “I've got a key!” he exclaimed with delight as he held up his front door key. I reached into my pocket and reflected how much I take my own keys for granted. For George, a key had meant being locked the wrong side of the ward door in the institution he had lived in since his teens. He had found new freedom, and now, thanks to L'Arche and his Social Services he was to experience more independence, but remain firmly a member of the Community. That seems to be L'Arche's strength – the committed network of friendship and support. As the L'Arche Identity statement says “Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together”.

One of the aspects of my job as General Secretary was the constant series of meetings I normally had to go to when visiting Communities so it was just great to be able to 'loiter with holy intent' as my friend Brian Gregory puts it. I joined the members of the Skein for supper and spent the evening with those who were around. George then went to his club while we all went along to the fun fair on Leith links where Alison and I had a go on the dodgem cars with Lotte and Jonathan. It was great fun, Alison!

It was soon time for bed.

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