Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Wisdom of Tenderness

A good friend of mine, from the UK, sent me the following recording of an interview with Jean Vanier:

I discovered Vanier through the writings of Henri Nouwen. Vanier's radical commmitment to active love as the primary expression of Christianity has had a providential impact on my own developing thoughts on authentic Christian Leadership. I am more than ever convinced that the call to follow Jesus is a call to let go of our desperate desires for prominence, privilege, prestige and self-enrichment. To follow Jesus is to commit to a radical divestment of every claim of self-interest so as to be free to love. Most of my current thinking revolves around the consequences of this commitment to mimetic love. Can I let go of everything on order to love? As Vanier says:

Yes, I come back to the reality of pleasure and to the reality of what is my deepest desire and what is your deepest desire. And what — and somewhere, the deepest desire for us all is to be appreciated, to be loved, to be seen as somebody of value. But not just seen — and Aristotle makes a difference between being admired and being loved. When you admire people, you put them on pedestals. When you love people, you want to be together. So really, the first meeting I had with people with disabilities, what touched me was their cry for relationship. Some of them had been in a psychiatric hospital. Others — all of them had lived pain and the pain of rejection. One of the words of Jesus to the, to Peter —and you find this at the end of the gospel of Saint John — "Do you love me?"