You invited me into an amazing world of friendship
Happy 90th Birthday, Jean!
In 1985 you invited me into an amazing world of friendship, laughter, faithfulness, humanity, trust, tenderness, challenge, and joy; and you introduced me to amazing people who have shown me what it means to choose life, to choose love, to choose hope, and to generously share it all.
I give thanks for the blessing you have been and continue to be for me and for so many others.
You were the first person I ever heard speak of Jesus and the disciples (and that “little woman at the well”) as your friends. As real people. And you invited me to get to know them. And that changed my life.
I remember the first time I realized that maybe L’Arche could be my place, my vocation, for the long haul. To me you had been someone who had a kind of extreme clarity about a lot of things. There was black, and there was white. And that was it. And then one day I noticed that things seemed to be a bit different… You had somehow begun to welcome the “grayness” of life and to be more comfortable in the messiness of it all. It was a significant time for me because I saw very clearly that, yes, L’Arche is a place of growth for everyone. And I wanted to be part of it.
I will never forget your visits to the malja over the years. Even the folks who had never met you before were completely captivated by your presence. They knew somehow, deep inside, that you were there for them alone. You were a true friend who saw the extraordinary beauty of each person. And then there was the time when you were giving a little talk to people at the malja. We were in a circle. Most people were in wheelchairs. And I was translating. You said, “Each and every person is beautiful. Each person is precious. Each person is important.” After I translated that, I couldn’t continue to focus on what you were saying because I had heard Ahmad, who had been hanging on your every word, say: “Even me?” And I had to respond to him.” Yes, Ahmad, even you.” It was a sacred moment.
Remember this, Jean? It was freezing cold and we all needed hot water bottles for the night. The plugs of the bottles somehow got mixed up and you ended up with a flooded bed!
A radiant woman who loved you very much. (And the feeling was clearly mutual.)
Much love to you, Jean.
Merci que tu existes!