MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Posts Tagged ‘Jean Vanier

Finding Peace

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Photo: George Duncan

Photo: George Duncan

Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.

~ Jean Vanier

Written by MattAndJojang

March 28, 2013 at 9:24 am

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Living Life, Abundantly at L’Arche Ireland

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Jean Vanier , founder of L’Arche, an organization of intentional communities with adults with disabilities.

To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.

Jean Vanier

I had a blog for a few years. The title being, Living Life, Abundantly, which later I found to be a bit ironic. I was missing the abundance all around me as I sat staring at the computer screen, writing feelings and thoughts about people and things around me so that people who were not around me could read them. Rarely did I get down to it and just share what I was feeling with those present.

Being one attracted to those precious moments in life where instant gratification is actually attainable, I reacted to this realization by simultaneously deleting my Facebook account as well as my personal blog, leading many to frantically email and wonder what in the world I was doing with my life by “going off the grid.”

This was an obvious reaction from many — as I grew up in Ohio, and lived in Washington state and now Ireland. Ireland, this wondrous and mysterious land of beauty and green, came into my life quite by chance. I was unemployed and feeling pressure (better read as “my dad wanted me to go to graduate school”). When one day I found myself at my favorite coffee shop reading a Henri Nouwen book about his time in L’Arche, an organization of intentional communities with adults with disabilities. I took a look at my life and summed it up in two words that got my imagination flowing: unemployed and single.

A few weeks later I found myself wandering through a city with my father when he brought up graduate school, yet again, and my reply was, “I’m actually thinking about applying to live in a L’Arche community abroad” to which he replied, “Cool.” I put this into my memory bank of good advice from Dad (which there are endless mental files of) and sent a few emails, which ended with me on a plane landing in a country I’ve never been with a suitcase full of clothes and with no expectations.

The “no expectations” part of my journey was key. Within hours of arriving to my new home, I realized that had I any, they would have been dashed and smashed beyond recognition. I had paid a therapist for two years to continually hear her tell me to “slow down.” Suddenly, I was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for Michael, whose name is changed for reasons of privacy, to make his way down the stairs to a ready-made breakfast that was already beginning to cool as he took step by slow step by slow step. Then he paused, and went back upstairs to change his socks. Hours after waking him that morning, a cold breakfast consumed, we made our way through town to work at a turtle’s pace. Only then did I recognize the beauty of this moment; he, 65 years of age and having outlived most with Down syndrome, tipped his hat at people who passed him by and embraced and smiled at those friends of his we met along the way.

What in the world was I rushing off to work for anyway, when it made me pass by these people, these neighbors, these new and old friends in this amazing and unique thing we call life. Later that night I laughed to myself as Michael and I slowly, and together, washed him for bed. I made sure his socks were on to his liking and that his pillow was arranged just right. There is no rush, I breathed to myself, as he stopped, took a look at me, and put his hand on my head and sang to himself, “Lord have mercy.” The perfect blessing to end the day.

There are days that I forget all that I have learned so far, but I am always thankful for the realization when I come back to the present. When I stray and rush to whatever I have next on my to-do list, which I have the tendency to try and make longer, and immediately am brought back down to reality by those like Michael. This morning I rushed into his room while one of the other assistants was waking him up. I asked her a question, dashed back out, and only later did she tell me what had happened as soon as I left the room. Michael, still in bed, looked up after I left the room (without actually having acknowledged him at all in my need to rush) and said, “Hello!” I turned to him as Joanna told me this story over breakfast. He just smiled at me, said hello, and patted me on the head. I took a breath as he and I embraced, and thought of all the important things that I had on my mind to do today, and quickly the list dissappeared as I sat with my good friend Michael and sipped (instead of gulped) my morning coffee.

~ Hannah Kinsley

Written by MattAndJojang

June 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm

The Vulnerability Of God

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My experience today is much more the discovery how vulnerable God is. You see, God is so respectful of our freedom. And if as the Epistle of John says that God is love, anyone who has loved in their life knows they’ve become vulnerable. Where are you and the other person and do you love me back? So if God is love, it means that God is terribly vulnerable. And God doesn’t want to enter into a relationship where He’s obliging or She is obliging us to do something. The beautiful text in the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelations: “I stand at the door and I knock. If somebody hears me and opens the door, then I will enter.” What touches me there is God knocking at the door, not kicking the door down, but waiting. Do you, will you open? Do you hear me? Because we’re in a world where there’s so much going on in our heads and our hearts and anxiety and projects that we don’t hear God knocking at the door of our hearts. So I’d say that what touches me the deepest, maybe because I’m becoming myself more vulnerable, is the discovery of the vulnerability of God, who doesn’t oblige.

Jean Vanier

Written by MattAndJojang

February 23, 2010 at 10:57 am