“At my age, I have to accept my gifts, but I’ve also a lot to learn about growing downwards, living with anguish, without running away from it. Acknowledging that today I’m tired and weak and can’t solve the problems of others. I’m called to enter into new types of relationships and into deeper communion of love with Jesus, and with all of my brothers and sisters.”
“The poet Tagore said, ‘Death is not a lamp that is extinguished, it is the coming of dawn.’ Weakness, crises, and death are never an end, but a new beginning.”Jean Vanier, “Life and Culture” Video
Jean Vanier has passed away at the age of 90 in France. Acclaimed as “a Canadian who inspires the world” (Maclean’s Magazine) and a “nation builder” (The Globe and Mail), Vanier was the founder of the international movement of L’Arche communities, where people who have developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them create homes and share life together.
Interviews with Jean
In late 2016, Christian Horizons (www.christian-horizons.org) partnered with Canadian think-tank Cardus (www.cardus.ca) to travel to France and develop an extended interview with Jean Vanier and CBC Ideas’ Paul Kennedy.
These videos are included in a playlist below, with over 100 minutes of beautiful conversation and insights from Jean.
Christian Horizons has also put together a document including key quotes from the video clips in the playlist above, together with discussion questions and room for further notes. These can be used in small group formats or for personal reflection. The questions draw on the Christian tradition and are beneficial for Christian social service teams, but also for churches and Christian ministries with and by people who experience disabilities.
You can watch Cardus videos here. One of these videos is included below.
Jean Vanier will be dearly missed as an example of how peace is still possible in a world divided, but we are thankful for the depth and breadth of his insight and contribution over the years. Drawing on these rich gifts, may we in turn live into the example he has left for us.
“But then somewhere, the discovery that we can meet. Without any ladders. And I receive your gift, you receive my gift. So there’s something that happens – a moment of communion, a moment of joy. And that’s where fundamentally joy is. When we meet people not above them, not below them, but as children of God together.”Jean Vanier, “Going Down the Ladder” Video