Jean Vanier is the 85 year old Canadian philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian who is most known for founding the L’Arche communities. L’Arch (French for “the ark”) began in 1964 when Jean Vanier took two men with disabilities into his home in the town of Trosly-Brevil, France. It is now an international organization operating some 146 communities in 35 countries.
He has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Here are a few quotes from his book, Community and Growth…
“To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance.”
“A Christian community should do as Jesus did: propose and not impose. Its attraction must lie in the radiance cast by the love of brothers.”
“Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.”
“We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love. ”
“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”
“…Individualistic material progress and the desire to gain prestige by coming out on top have taken over from the sense of fellowship, compassion and community. Now people live more or less on their own in a small house, jealously guarding their goods and planning to acquire more, with a notice on the gate that says, ‘Beware of the Dog.”
“The poor are always prophetic. As true prophets always point out, they reveal God’s design. That is why we should take time to listen to them. And that means staying near them, because they speak quietly and infrequently; they are afraid to speak out, they lack confidence in themselves because they have been broken and oppressed. But if we listen to them, they will bring us back to the essential.”
“We have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviours. We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible, that the world is not condemned to a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, that class and racial warfare is not inevitable.”
For videos of Jean Vanier talking, search his name on The Work Of The People website.