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Jean Vanier on Welcoming the Humiliated

http://vimeo.com/36776420

Jean Vanier is founder of L’Arch, a worldwide network of communities that welcome and care for people with learning disabilities. In 1964 he became aware of the thousands of people in France institutionalised with developmental delays. Feeling led by God, Vanier invited two men to leave their institutions and share his home in Trosly-Breuil, France, and today there are now over 130 L’Arch communities around the world.

In this moving 7 minute film from Alter magazine, Jean Vanier tells the story of Pauline, a woman who arrived at L’Arch suffering from epilepsy and paraplegia, and who was quite violent due to decades of humiliation. As Jean explains, Pauline needed more than professional help. She needed to be loved, listened to and helped to discover that ‘she is more beautiful than she dares believe.’

This is a powerful story of how patient, self-giving love can transform shame, jealousy and humiliation. But it takes time. As Jean says, growth is a long road.

***

Question: How can we best welcome the humiliated in our own lives? Share your thoughts now 

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About Sheridan Voysey

I am a writer, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. Please subscribe to get my articles and podcasts in your inbox! And let's connect via Facebook, Twitter and
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  • Kerrie

    Be a good listener

    • http://sheridanvoysey.com Sheridan Voysey

      It’s the first step, isn’t it Kerrie. Be there. Sit by them. Listen.

  • Maximus

    My story is also a lifetime one, I’m now in my late 50′s and can still hear my mother saying “we didn’t want you” – believe me It is no small thing.

    • http://sheridanvoysey.com Sheridan Voysey

      Wow Maximus. My prayer for you is that “we didn’t want you” is replaced with “but God did”.

  • Mandy

    The dignity uncovered when intentionally expressed grace is practiced. Reminiscent of the mustard seed.

    • http://sheridanvoysey.com Sheridan Voysey

      So true. And that intentional grace is costly grace – in time and energy. That’s why I believe such love can’t be generated without the indwelling Spirit of God. We’ll soon run out otherwise.

  • Grace Doris

    Having a child with autism, we have seen how our son Callum is treated in the different churches we’ve been in.  We have found that churches with a big emphasis on running programmes, performance, etc struggle to incorporate children and adults with learning difficulties into their community.  We are now in a church where the leaders and people focus mainly on loving God and loving others, and everything they do flows out of that foundation, and naturally, caught up in that, our son Callum is so easily welcomed and loved.  I think churches need to understand what is important – if the focus is on loving God and loving others, inclusion and acceptance of anyone with any disability becomes easier.

    • http://sheridanvoysey.com Sheridan Voysey

      SUCH a valuable insight, Grace. Sadly, most of those programmes would’ve been great ideas when they were first launched; great ways to serve people. But maintaining the machinery can soon become the primary focus. 

      Will take this away with me for the rest of the day.