Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Thank you, Jean

I find myself quite teary this morning with the news of Jean Vanier's death. Regular followers of these moodlings know that, though I met him only once, he is a major influence in my life, a big man who had a huge heart for people with and without disabilities. So much so that he started L'Arche over 50 years ago in order to bring people with intellectual disabilities out of institutions and into our hearts and lives.

I was a bit surprised this morning when I noticed that I already have 42 moodlings mentioning or quoting Jean, but then again, I wasn't, because his words have always resonated deeply within me. Jean Vanier knew that people with disabilities have so much to teach us about being human, about what is truly important in life. He wrote dozens of books about how to live a meaningful life, all of which encourage us toward acceptance of those who are different from us, forgiveness, unity and welcome. And in our present days, with so much division and difficulty in our world, those things need to come to the fore more than ever.

I leave you with the man's last video message to the world, made for the occasion of his 90th birthday, with his ten rules for life:

1. Accept the reality of your body.
2. Talk about your emotions and difficulties.
3. Don't be afraid to not be successful.
4. In relationship, take the time to ask, "How are you?"
5. Stop looking at your phone. Be present!
6. Ask people, "What is your story?"
7. Be aware of your own story.
8. Stop prejudice: meet people who are different from you.
9. Listen to your deepest desire and follow it.
10. Remember that you will die one day.

Remember, dear readers, that, as Jean says, "You are beautiful as you are."

Thank you for being a fellow passenger on this train we call life. Rest in peace, dear Jean.

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