Jean Vanier died this week.
“As soon as we start selecting and judging people instead of welcoming them as they are... we are reducing life, not fostering it. When we reveal to people our belief in them, their hidden beauty rises to the surface where it may more clearly be seen by all,” wrote Jean.
Jean Vanier founded L’arche, an international federation of communities for people with mental and physical developmental disabilities and those who assist them. He did this in the belief that:
“Weakness carries within it a secret power. The cry and the trust that flow from weakness can open up hearts. The one who is weaker can call forth powers of love in the one who is stronger.”
He believed that through our vulnerabilities, being courageous enough to express our needs, we could create true community — relationships and spaces where people felt safe, loved and accepted exactly as they are.
Vanier cautioned against our obsession with efficiency. He warned that by choosing to rely exclusively on modern conveniences rather than on people - our neighbours, families and coworkers - we unknowingly cut the threads of community. We stop weaving relationship.
Jean Vanier challenged me to see the good of need and the way it causes us to reach out our arms to love.