Jean Vanier's book; "Our Journey Home", has this to say on...
"Whatever our path in life, whatever crises and difficulties we suffer, what really matters is that we should become ourselves, not paralyzed by fear of others and what they think, or by our psychological needs for tenderness and power.
Not long ago, a nineteen-year-old assistant from a l'Arche community came to see me. I asked him how he was getting on. He told me he was doing all right, but that it was hard. He said, 'I am becoming myself.' Through all the stages of growth, is not the real aim in life to become ourselves, to allow the barriers to come down so that the deepest 'I' can emerge? Not to become what others want us to be, not to cry out to get their attention at any price. Not to refuse life, or to try to be someone else, but to grow from the seed of life within each of us, rooted in our earth and history. Is this not our journey home?
This emergence of the real 'I' - this refusal to compromise with a world which crushes weak people and personal freedom and conscience, this refusal to compromise with evil and forces of corruption and oppression - seems to be particularly hard in public life. Pontius Pilate knew that fear of causing a revolution, arousing the Emperor's anger and losing the position, honours and privileges which meant everything to him. When magistrates sell their conscience and soul to political powers and tyrants in order to win their favour, not only does their deepest 'I' not emerge, it is dissolved by fear. When we commit an injustice through fear of losing our position or good name, when we lie because we are afraid of conflict or rejection, when we accept bribes, the 'I' is plunged deeper and deeper into the dark areas of our being.
Sometimes young people are put under great pressure to take drugs, or to follow the crowd. If they refuse, they are laughed at, mocked as cowards. Bullying can make life at school unbearable. You need to be strong to say 'No', but it is then that the deep 'I' emerges. In the same way, it is not easy to make a stand for justice and truth in our workplace, or in certain tyrannical regimes. But the 'I' emerges when we speak the truth, when we are brave enough to risk stepping out of line, and finding ourselves on our own. When we denounce injustice simply to gain honour and recognition, the 'I' does not really emerge. Healing takes place every time we choose truth and justice and follow our conscience.
The emergence of the 'I' does not give us a freedom of power, the freedom to judge and condemn others and think ourselves better than them. Nor does it give the freedom of independence, the capacity to do whatever we want; not the freedom of a saviour. It gives the freedom of vulnerability, the capacity to suffer with others, to listen to them so as to understand their pain. It is the freedom to take our own place and not anyone else's in society and the universe, so as to live communion and compassion, and communicate trust and freedom to others. It is the freedom to submit to a truth and justice that is greater than ourselves and our group, and which allows us to be in communion with universal and eternal values. It is the freedom to be ourselves.
The emergence of the 'I' takes place in humility, gradually, through all sorts of set-backs and even mistakes. It is a slow and beautiful growth through all the stages of life. As we travel towards it, we are called to be patient, to find the rhythm proper to our growth, trusting in time and allowing all the things that happen to us - illness, crises, the things we read, encounters, separations and bereavements - to do their work gently within us. Where there is a real desire to live in truth, everything will work together for the good of the person and for his or her growth towards human and spiritual maturity.
So the growth of a human being towards a deeper identity and greater openness corresponds to the emergence of the 'I'. It is not something big and strong. It may not even be possible to see it happening. It does not bring honours or financial reward. It is something that happens inside ourselves, something to do with love and fidelity in love, something to do with justice, trust, communion with others and welcoming others. This growth in communion takes place particularly in people who are humble and socially unimportant. Those who are important and powerful will also become unimportant at the end of their lives, but during their time of 'importance' and power they are taken up with their need to exert this power. Human growth involves acquiring certain things, but it is realized above all in service, in solidarity and in giving. It is a school of giving. We learn how to give, to give our hearts. And the final gift, in which everything is accomplished, is the gift of our heart as we welcome the God of gifts, who in turn welcomes us into His arms."
Please join me in praying the 'most powerful prayer for these times'...
Lord Jesus Christ
Son of the Father
send now Your Spirit over
Let the Holy Spirit live
in the hearts of all peoples
that they may be preserved
from corruption, disaster
May the Lady of All Peoples
who once was Mary
be our Advocate