Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, passed away today. Vanier was one of my heroes. In addition to how profoundly he loved people with disabilities, Vanier’s masterpiece From Brokenness to Community (Amazon | IndieBound) is one of three short books that have profoundly influenced what I believe about the church. (The other two are John Howard Yoder’s Body Politics and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together.) In recognition of Vanier’s passing, here is a short reflection I wrote on From Brokenness to Community. Rest in Peace, Mr. Vanier.
In Thornton Wilder’s play The Angel That Troubled the Waters, a soul-sick physician comes to a pool where, in certain seasons, the water is stirred up by an angel of the Lord. The first invalid to jump in the water is healed. But when the physician approaches, the angel tells him to draw back. The doctor makes the case that if he can just get in the pool, if he could only be released from his spiritual bondage, then his ability to do good works will increase. He also appeals to the angel’s pity and sense of fairness, asking why he must accept a greater burden than his neighbor.… Read the rest