Jean Vanier’s article ‘The Fragility of L’Arche and the Friendship of God’ offers some important observations on fear, compassion and transformation. Vanier notes that:
Transformation has to do with the way the walls separating us from others and from our deepest self begin to disappear. Between all of us fragile human beings stand walls built on loneliness and the absence of God, walls built on fear – fear that becomes depression or a compulsion to prove that we are special.
However, as Vanier points out, ‘God cannot stand walls of fear and division’ and that ‘to be a Christian is to grow in compassion’.
The article can be found in Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier, Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness.
At the beginning of Lent I decided to subscribe to the Lent Daily Reflections by the World Community for Christian Meditation. I am glad that I did, because they have contained many inspiring thoughts alongside some gentle, wholesome counsel.
Today’s reflection (Friday of Lent Week 4) talks about the anguish of loss, making the helpful distinction between two types of losses. One is described as the deliverance from an addiction or a compulsive delusion, which, while very much experienced as a loss at the time, in the end leads to freedom and a life lived with renewed vigour. The second type, on the other hand, is a ‘genuine death experience that drags us into a vortex of surrendering to something vaster than we can control’.
Experience of the second type, which they describe as ‘major surgery with a strong anaesthetic that puts us out’, can take a long time to heal and integrate and can change your life forever. It probably will!