on being human

My favourite picture of recent?


Our photographer friend Elma took some great shots of Rachel and Janneke being candid.  You can see her perspective over on her blog here.

There have been some ups and downs this week; the downs involving helping Rachel manage her pains, and the ups being Janneke's animated spirit as Marlene and I help her get ready for preschool in the morning.  I can guess at Janneke's joy by her kicking legs and cheery yells, but I wish I didn't have to guess at what is causing Rachel pain in the late afternoon and evening.  Tonight, a warm bath seemed to settle her for awhile.

* * *

While reflecting on my words for the upcoming conference (link), Ralph sent me this article about a young girl's interview with Jean Vanier.  And, though the girl's last name is Pot, we are not related.  Here's a quote from the article:

Jesus taught and demonstrated hospitality.  That's the reason his followers have to do the same, Jean Vanier says.  Hospitality is "helping people discover how precious they are and then helping them to do beautiful things." 

Makes me think of the different people we've encountered since the birth of our two youngest, people who have felt marginalized from the "normal" crowd because they struggle with brokenness that is hidden from our casual glances.

Makes me think of the vision for Jacob's Well (to be shared at the conference too): a faith-based community in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C.  We seek mutually transformative friendship with those on the margins of society and equip others to do the same in their own context.

Who are the marginalized?

You can see pretty quickly that two of my four girls are disabled.  Not disputing that.

What we can't see so quickly are the imperfections and brokenness that lay in each one of us.

Here's Vanier's take from his book Becoming Human:

When I discover that I am accepted and loved as a person, with my strengths and weaknesses, when I discover that I carry within myself a secret, the secret of my uniqueness, then I can begin to open up to others and respect their secret. Each human being, however small or weak, has something to bring to humanity. As we start to really get to know others, as we begin to listen to each other's stories, things begin to change. We begin the movement from exclusion to inclusion, from fear to trust, from closedness to openness, from judgment and prejudice to forgiveness and understanding. It is a movement of the heart.
It is not just a question of performing good deeds for those who are excluded but of being open and vulnerable to them in order to receive the life that they can offer; it is to become their friends. If we start to include the 'disadvantaged' in our lives and enter into heartfelt relationships with them, they will change things in us. They will call us to be people of mutual trust, to take time to listen and be with each other. They will call us out from our individualism and need for power into belonging to each other and being open to others. They will break down the prejudices and protective walls that gave rise to exclusion in the first place. They will then start to affect our human organizations, revealing new ways of being and walking together.
So, the one-way street, where those on top tell those at the bottom what to do, what to think, and how to be, becomes a two-way street, where we listen to what they, the 'outsiders,' the 'strangers,' have to say and we accept what they have to give, that is, a simpler and more profound understanding of what it means to be truly human....
If each one of us, with our gifts and weaknesses, our capacities and our needs, opens our heart to a few people who are different and become their friends, receive life from them, our societies would change. This is the way of the heart.
Peace to your homes. May they be hospitable.