Jean sat on a blanket eating potato chips
I have been connected to L’Arche Toronto for 32 years – as a volunteer, then Development officer, and now as an Associate member. I spent time with Jean when Toronto hosted World Youth Day. Jean sat on a blanket (eating potato chips and garlic dip) with core member Tim Vaughan and myself, as the Pope delivered his blessing.
My most treasured memory of Jean Vanier is when I stayed at Trosly following a Covenant Retreat in Belgium. Jean invited me to sit with him in his study. He was in the midst of his correspondence with Ian Brown for a series of Globe and Mail articles. Over tea, he asked my opinion about some hot topic of the day – I can’t remember the details. I was shocked that he asked my opinion and even more shocked that he listened to what I had to offer!
At the most vulnerable part of the chat, I was sharing how I was feeling about Tim. Only a few years after World Youth Day, he started showing signs of early dementia. I was so emotional about the ‘long good bye’ as Alzheimer’s is so often referred to. Jean remembered in great detail our afternoon at World Youth Day and reminded me that it was a collection of these little moments that defined the relationship that Tim and I shared.
Jean and L’Arche have shaped me in many ways. Through discovering my own core gift of “discovering opportunities by bringing people together,” I have been able to extend that into my new work using person-centered practices as driving force.
Many blessings to this dear man on his 90th Birthday.