This morning I am being visited by Jean Vanier through his little book “Eruption to Hope.” I attended a seminar led by Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen at Catholic University once. What a team they were together! Jean, a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian and humanitarian is now 88 years old. He founded L’Arche in 1964, an international federation of communities spread across 35 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. He currently lives as a member of the original L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France.
Many Christians find meaning in the hymn, “In the Garden,” written by C. Austin Miles and based on the Gospel of John’s resurrection narrative (20:11-18). The refrain tells of a deep personal relationship with Jesus: “And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
When I write of the visitations I experience with my “friends of the written word” in the early hours of the day here in my study, I think of that hymn. Surely Jesus comes in these “friends” of mine and “walks with me…talks with me,” and tells me, through their words, of the sorrows and the joys and the “Love at the heart of all things.” Can you sense that in these words from Vanier?
To bring peace to this divided world, we must find new means which can match the new discoveries of science and of violence. We must break through our old styles and ways of life to create communities of friends where hierarchy is based not on birth, heritage, wealth and frequently unmerited position, but upon personal values of inner depth, life of the spirit and love and compassion….The day must come—if it doesn’t, we will all be smothered by an overwhelming movement of violence and despair—when…men of business must share with their workers as brothers and sisters and not as paternalistic benefactors, when lawyers and doctors must live amongst the poorer members of their community….The day must come when instead of creating large walls around our houses, we open large doors to welcome at our table the lonely, the old and the handicapped….If we believe in God, we must follow this inner belief and meet this God of love and of mercy and of tenderness and of justice. It is He who calls forth in us a dynamism of the Spirit and who breaks down the barriers which have been built up on our land of fear.
Out of an erupting world, a world that is being unified technically but which remains so drastically divided, a new force will be born which will match the violence and give life to growing despair.” And He walks with me, and he talks to me…and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
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