I have come to deeply love the writings of Jean Vanier ….. and so when I spotted a copy of “Finding Peace” on a shelf at my friends, Mark and Karen, I asked to borrow it.
Vanier shares a poem that he translated from French written by Athenagoras, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople from 1948 – 1972. I was captivated by it:
I have waged this war against myself for many years.
It was terrible.
But now I am disarmed.
I am no longer frightened of anything
because love banishes fear.
I am disarmed of the need to be right
and to justify myself by disqualifying others.
I am no longer on the defensive
holding onto my riches.
I just want to welcome and to share.
I don’t hold onto my ideas and projects.
If someone shows me something better –
No, I shouldn’t say better but good –
I accept them without any regrets.
I no longer seek to compare.
What is good, true and real is always for me the best.
That is why I have no fear.
When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self
If we open our hearts to the God-Man
who makes all things new
then He takes away past hurts
and reveals a new time
where everything is possible.
Jean Vanier goes on to say, “To be a peacemaker means not to judge or condemn or speak badly of people, not to rejoice in any form of ill that may strike them. Peacemaking is holding people gently in prayer, wishing them to be well and free. Peacemaking is welcoming people who are weak and in need, maybe just with a smile, giving them support, offering them kindness and tenderness, and opening our hearts to them. It is welcoming those with whom we may have difficulty or whom we may not especially like, those who are ….. different than us. It is to approach people not from a pedestal, a position of power and certitude, in order to solve problems, but from a place of listening, understanding, humility, and love. When we relinquish power, we become more open to the compassion of God.” (Finding Peace, Jean Vanier, p. 69)
Vanier speaks most intimately from the context of having opened his heart and home to those with a variety of disabilities. Yet this little book on “Finding Peace” speaks much to the heart of what it will cost us to truly ‘bridge the gap’in the midst of enmity and polarization on the topic of homosexuality.
I feel renewed, energized, inspired and challenged to continue to seek to be a peace-maker.
For this I am grateful.