Jean Vanier: What we need to Grow
Jean Vanier’s life and words touch me deeply. He was born to privilege in Canada eighty-plus years ago. Following a career in both the British and Canadian Navy, he began a search for a more meaningful life. He sought ways to “live the gospels more fully in his daily life.” This search led him to two intellectually disabled men, living in tough circumstances in France. He invited Raphael and Phillippe to come and live with him. Now, decades later, there are 147 L’ARCHE communities sprinkled throughout the world where intellectually disabled adults live in community with their assistants. Jean Vanier travels, speaks, and writes to awaken the world to the true meaning of being human and all that friendship with the disabled has to offer and teach us.
Until recently I’d never heard of Jean. He’s not rich or famous. However, when I open his Daily Thoughts in my google inbox each morning, my heart and soul are yanked to attention. Whoa! Yes. God, give me a heart like Jean’s!
I share today’s email from Jean because it’s so counter-western culture, yet what I need to hear and put into practice:
Times of Inner Peace
In order to grow towards a deeper sense of identity and to open ourselves to others, we need times of quiet and reflection, times of inner peace and relaxation. If we are preoccupied with plans and a compulsive need to succeed and be appreciated, or if we are tired, tense and stressed, it is difficult to slow down and welcome and listen to reality and to others. Out internal motor runs too fast. It is impossible to be silent and stand back from what is happening in order to consider our motives and fears. The heart’s silence is blotted out by the noise of the motor. Growth demands that we are fit, well rested, and relaxed both in body and spirit. So it is important to find a healthy rhythm of life, and to know how much rest we need and the types of relaxation that give life.
– Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, pp. 153-154