I’ve been reading a little Henri Nouwen lately. Specifically, writings on Peace and Justice compiled by John Dear in The Road to Peace. The following paragraph is from p. 170, regarding Nouwen’s experience with the L’Arche community. If you’ve never heard of L’Arche, here’s first a statement from their website:
We are people, with and without developmental disabilities, sharing life in communities belonging to an International Federation. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together. We celebrate the unique value of every person and recognize our need of one another.
There is much from this book that I would love to share with you, because of the way Nouwen’s words have reached into my soul. He draws out an understanding of my longings and lovingly, graciously, points towards Christ while challenging me to embrace who I am in Christ by opening myself to others.
L’Arche is such a gift to the world because L’Arche wants to proclaim to the world that suffering is no longer in the way of glory, but the way to it. L’Arche wants to proclaim this not first of all by words, but by faithfulness to those for whom suffering and guilt are so hard to separate. And those are not only the handicapped men and women in our communities, but the assistants, priests, directors, and board members as well. Oh, how much do you and I and all our brothers and sisters in the human family need to hear the words: “Oh, foolish people, don’t you know that our suffering has been freed by God from the demonic power of guilt and has been made into the way to glory?” But we keep forgetting it. We keep flagellating ourselves. We keep giving in to self-rejection and depression. We have to be taught over and over again the true meaning of the scriptures so that our hearts can start to burn again and our eyes and ears can be opened to the greatest message of hope ever brought to us.