Witt lectures. The transcript was published in by Paulist Press. It is my belief that in our mad world, where there is so much pain, rivalry, hatred, violence, inequality and depression, that it is people who are weak, rejected, marginalized, and counted as useless, who can become a source of life and of salvation for us as individuals, as well as for our world…. Community is a wonderful place, it is life-giving; but it is also a place of pain, because it is a place of truth and of growth — the revelation of our pride, our fear and our brokenness. Go out to the world and bring the good news the others; do not keep it for yourselves.
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I agree with this perceptive quote by Jean Vanier. I think that we all have our own disabilities in some ways, not necessarily in physical form but rather we all have some brokenness and fragilities within us that we want to hide from the society, many a times, because society as a whole generally is not very kind and understanding towards our brokenness and fragilities, due to their competitive mindset. So the act of excluding from the normal life of society people with disabilities that are visible also has profound lessons to teach us, as it probably is a symptom of how we have not embraced and accepted our own brokenness and fragilities.
Only when we embrace our own disabilities will we also be able to accept others with disabilities. Similarly, by learning to embrace the otherness in themselves, they will be able to accept others who are different from them without attempting to convert them to their own beliefs. Perhaps all disabled people, in the sense that includes everyone, can gain some insight and inspiration here.
Yes, we are all disabled in the sense that we are all broken and fragile in some ways, and when we love, accept and heal ourselves, we will also love, accept and heal others too. I think this is profound wisdom shared by Jean Vanier. One reviewer wrote:. His insights are at the heart of the gospel. One of his more powerful observations is that Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, not those who serve the poor. We accept loss of wealth and status and comfort. This process can begin when we discover our mutual brokenness.
We acknowledge our poverty and then we understand what it means that Jesus came to serve the poor. All this happens in the context of community—a place of pain and trial, but also reconciliation and celebration. Community is where the ego goes to die, and in its place we find resurrection, communion, and even salvation. Yes, perhaps the gospel is really all about discovering and acknowledging our mutual brokenness and poverty.
It is about becoming human all over again, just as Jesus became human to serve humanity as an example of how we too can serve one another as a community where we find resurrection, communion and salvation. Part four of four. He also quoted Martin Luther King about accepting our own brokenness in order to welcome others who are also broken in their own ways. Even if one day you cannot do things, you are still precious, and I am happy to be in relationship with you.
I believe this is because within each of us there is a poverty and vulnerability that we need to accept and embrace, in order to be spiritually nourished by the very weakness that the performance-based and competitive despise.
Loneliness is one form, is, in fact, essential to our humanity. Loneliness can become a source of creative energy, the energy that drives us down new paths to create new things or to seek more truth and justice in the world. Artists, poets, mystics, prophets, those who do not seem to fit into the world or the ways of society, are frequently lonely.
They feel themselves to be different, dissatisfied with the status quo and with mediocrity; dissatisfied with our competitive world where so much energy goes into ephemeral things.
Frequently, it is the lonely man or woman who revolts against injustice and seeks new ways. It is as if a fire is burning within them, a fire fuelled by loneliness. Loneliness is the fundamental force that urges mystics to a deeper union with God. Yes, recognising that loneliness is part of being human and essential to our humanity and embracing our loneliness can enable us to become more human and also more humane, as we will also be able to reach out and relate to others who are feeling lonely too.
This is contrary to the gospel Jesus came to bring — to welcome the downtrodden and comfort the weary with unconditonal love and acceptance, as I have come to realise more and more.
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From Brokenness to Community : The Wit Lectures (Howard University Divinity School)
Church and ministry leadership resources to better equip, train and provide ideas for today's church and ministry leaders, like you. Let me pick up on where Chris left off and post something here to mark the birthday of Jean Vanier. Here is what I wrote:. The first invalid to jump in the water is healed. But when the physician approaches, the angel tells him to draw back. The doctor makes the case that if he can just get in the pool, if he could only be released from his spiritual bondage, then his ability to do good works will increase. The doctor can treat the sick because he knows what it is to be sick.
Jean Vanier: Becoming Human, From Brokenness to Community, and Healing and Inner Liberation
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