An Insight from Jean Vanier

Posted: April 16, 2010 by Scott Kistler in Suffering
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A while back I listened to an episode of Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith program that had a profound statement by Jean Vanier.  Vanier founded a community in France called L’Arche that has volunteers live with people with disabilities (called the “core members” of the community).  Many similar communities have been founded globally.  As a Dominican monk, Vanier founded L’Arche on a broadly Christian foundation, but “at the same time L’Arche itself has become more ecumenical, and in some places—I know the communities in India are interfaith. That you have Muslim and Hindu and Christian residents and assistants,” according to Tippett.

That said, I thought that one of the quotes that Tippett played from Vanier was striking:

I remember when a man who had gone through a very deep experience in one of our homes had been kept awake all night by one of the people who had screamed all night. He came to see me the next morning and he said, ‘You know, I wept all morning. I was in the chapel. I thought I could have killed him.’ And we talked about it, and I said to him, ‘You know, I think this is probably one of the most important days of your life. You came to L’Arche thinking you could do good to the poor, and you have. You’ve done a lot of good. But today you are discovering that you are poor.’ We all need help, and it’s only as we discover that ‘I have a handicap,’ that ‘I am broken,’ that ‘we’re all broken,’ and then we can begin to work at it.

So service can lead to greater dependence on God and His grace when we realize that we aren’t able to serve as we ought to.

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