Spirituality

Real growth begins when we accept our weaknesses

Jean Vanier

Earlier this week I was reminded of the words of a beautiful song, ‘There where you are you will find God’ (by Jen Charadia) and I have had them swirling around in my mind and indeed in my feelings for days.  And they imparted some wisdom!  Ignatian wisdom!  To the big question, often the backdrop to our lives and at times breaking into our consciousness more deliberately   – ‘Where is God?’  –  the Ignatian answer is, ‘Look around you’.  This simple and profound answer, ‘Look around you’, takes on a real poignancy when we are in a painful place, a low, a place of weakness or doubt or alienation, a place we would rather not be.  Feeling weak is not easy, neither is waiting in that weakness.  A receptive heart is counter-intuitive when all we want to do is close up.  But ancient wisdom and biblical spirituality counsel us to do just that.  There where you are you will find God.

Jean Vanier is a Canadian philosopher, theologian and religious leader, and he is the founder of the L’Arche communities.  These are communities which provide a home, care and love, for people with disabilities.  Having become aware of the plight of so many people with developmental disabilities who were institutionalized, in 1964 he invited two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux to leave the institutions they were living in and live with him in Trosly-Breuil in France.  This was the beginning of the first L’Arche community and since that time he has helped develop such communities in other parts of the world.  Vanier has written and spoken much about what he has learned living with people with disabilities.  They have taught him how to live in community, how to be truly present to one another and how to love.  I had the privilege of attending one of his talks many years ago when he visited Sydney, and just sitting in the audience, listening to him speak, I was aware of being in the presence of a truly holy man, a man whose inner being and life have taken a holy shape.  But Vanier’s life and his message are counter-cultural in many ways.  In his book, The Broken Body, he speaks of going down the ladder of success.  Weakness and brokenness, he points out, are not to be feared or shunned.  Rather we need to embrace them and welcome them, for recognizing our own weaknesses, our own imperfections and limitations will bring us into community with others.  Embracing our weaknesses will also become a channel of grace.

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Ms Kerry McCullough

Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator