Accidental Friends: Stories from My Life in Community

Posted 2019-04-08

This book by Beth Porter, long-time member of L’Arche Daybreak, will be available soon in North America.

“Beth has particular gifts in writing, and her love for L’Arche and its people shines through this book. These stories can invite us into reflection on our own interactions and experiences.”
– From the Foreword by Jean Vanier

As the L’Arche Daybreak Community celebrates its 50th anniversary, this beautifully-written memoir tells the inside story of daily life shared by a community of people with and without intellectual disabilities. It’s full of touching, sometimes amusing, but always life-affirming stories, and formational moments from the lives not only of author Beth Porter, who has been a part of the Daybreak community across four decades, but also of many others with whom she lived and worked.

Beth had been teaching university students when she visited a L’Arche home in 1980. At that time, Daybreak, the first L’Arche community in North America, was eleven years old. As she was leaving, one of the residents, Michael, said, “Come back!” And she did. She later bonded with Mike, when they were stranded overnight in a Georgian Bay snowstorm. Now, they are “wold friends,” as Mike likes to tell people.

Fast forward and Beth has lived in L’Arche for forty years. Accidental Friends is her story, starting out with her looking for a more integrated lifestyle and something meaningful to do with others. It is about discovering the many gifts of the so-called disabled people who welcomed her and urged her to stay and join in the rich life they shared with other assistants from various countries who had come to experience community life. Indeed, the book gives a vivid picture of the people in the homes who helped shape the community’s tone and life together, of inspiring people such as Mike and Ellen and George who became her good friends, and, along the way, of the growth of L’Arche Daybreak.

Accidental Friends Book Launches

  • April 30, 2019, 7:00 pm at L’Arche Toronto Gathering Place, 186 Floyd Ave, Toronto, ON
  • May 3, 2019, 7:30 pm at L’Arche Daybreak Dayspring, 11339 Yonge Street Richmond Hill, ON (Within the context of a community worship service)
  • June 4, 2019, 7:00 pm at McNally Robinson, Grant Park in the Atrium, Winnipeg, MB
  • June 10, 2019, 7:00 pm at McNally Robinson, Saskatoon, SK

Beth Porter is a long-time member of L’Arche Daybreak where she was an assistant and held other roles. For 16 years, until September 2016, she worked on Communications, Educational Initiatives, and Publications for the L’Arche Canada Foundation and then for L’Arche Canada. Besides her work for L’Arche, she has written articles, reflections, and reviews for various publications. In 2001, Beth was the lead editor of an anthology of essays published by Doubleday: “Befriending Life: Encounters with Henri Nouwen.”


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