Last night at Community Night we watched a video of a short talk by Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche. He gave the talk at the CBU Centre for Mikm'aq Studies during a visit to Cape Breton in 1997. Eddie was tucked snugly under his arm, nodding sagely at all the right moments, for the duration of the talk.
No matter how many times I hear Jean, and no matter how many times he repeats the same stories, wanders off on the same tangents, or makes the same points, I am touched by his wisdom, simplicity, and presence. Reading his recently published memoir, "Our Life Together", I cannot help but be inspired by his humility and conviction. He is utterly convinced of his own weakness and fallibility, he knows he does not have the answers. Yet he is equally convinced that the message he speaks about the power of weakness and the call to be a peacemaker can and will change the world. He sees every day the horrors of "civilized" society, yet he remains deeply moved by the beauty of people and the grace of humanity.
In the few minutes he spoke at CBU, he talked about what it means to love. To love, he said, is not to do things for people. To love is to reveal to people their value, to reveal to them that they are important and that they have something to offer.
To love is also to understand, he said. To understand the hurt and anger and broken hearts of our people and in that understanding to help people heal.
And to love is also to empower, to empower people simply to "become". To become fully human, to become who God has called them to be.
The richness of our world, he said, is not in dollar bills but in human hearts, and we need to reveal these riches to the world. We cannot do it alone, but together we can do beautiful things.