Jean Vanier: A man to be admired and respected

Brenda memorializes the French Canadian humanitarian

Jean Vanier: A man to be admired and respected

I no longer watch much TV. In the evenings when I feel tired I go to my bedroom, tidy up a bit, clean the litter box, groom the cat and listen to CBC radio.

One program struck me as something I should have listened to many years ago. The program, which was part of the show “Ideas,” presented a discussion about the life of Jean Vanier. Vanier was a Canadian philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. He had died at the age of 90 a few days prior to me listening to his life story.

What a life that was.

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He was affiliated with the Catholic church. That has nothing to do with all the good he did for people with disabilities. While living in France he opened his heart and home to two disabled men. This act of kindness and respect for these men led to an organization called “L’Arche.” At the time of his death, 37 countries had a facility that would assist and house those with disabilities.

He felt all children needed to live with peace, love, and dignity. Every child, every person needs to know that they are celebrated. Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things, it means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.

In the CBC interview, he reminded all of us how and why we need to be more forgiving and kind. He took the disabled from asylums to give them a life where acts of kindness and respect set them free. One of his people could not speak, see or walk but with time and caring became a valued member of the community called L’Arche.

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There could never be enough space to tell the remarkable stories of Jean Vanier. I am sure many of our churches will discuss his kindness to the disabled.

Maybe you can find the discussions with and about him on the CBC radio site on your computer. I hope so. It made me think about the goodness I see in our world.

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