Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Jean Vanier, Living in Reality, My Struggle

Jean Vanier is a most amazing man, who, indirectly has affected the lives of two of my close friends, as well as a far more expansive effort in the founding of the L'Arche Communities, world wide.

My friends
Mark and Tod, had a lunch with priest and writer Henri Nouwen about 20 years ago in Toronto; and this was a lunch that changed both of their lives significantly. His support for the work of Jean Vanier was the reason Henri Nouwen was living in Toronto, serving in a L'Arche community.

Vanier said something recently in a radio interview that struck me with the force of an epiphany. He said,

"The big thing for me is to love reality, and not live in the imagination; not live in what could have been, or what should have been, or what can be, but to love reality, and then discover that God is present there."

My Church Problem
As I heard these words, I realized this was me Mr. Vanier was talking about. I have spent the last decade or so wanting something bigger, better, stronger, slicker, and not being content at all with reality. Always striving for something out of my reach.

I go to a church that was once "great", what ever that means. Perhaps it was the large traditional worship services, the cathedral sanctuary, the handsome, velvet-throated pastor, or the shiny TV ministry. Oh, we were once really great. Bigger, better, stronger, slicker. A force to be reckoned with.

But then the troubles and slow decline came. The times changed, and the church did not. The new pastor was an Emperor Without Clothes. Nothing really changed, christian community was eroded, we did not look as spiffy as we once did on TV. Accusations were leveled, arguments began, it got very ugly.

This was several years ago. Our church has recovered, and is slowly, carefully, on the mend. I care deeply about all this; I have been involved at this church for more than 20 years - I met my wife there, and both our daughters were dedicated there. But sometimes, I get discouraged.

I have never really been able to just be content in our "church reality". To be satisfied with the way things are - partially complete, wounded, yet healing. Jean Vanier's words struck me as very profound; to be simply content with the present state of affairs.

I wonder, can I love reality, and find God there?

Holiday Fun Review

About 12 days ago, we pulled the kids out of school and spent the day at Disneyland. Just the four of us, as a family.

It was very fun to be a kid again, if only for a day.

The last time we pulled the girls from school like this, one was in 5th grade, and the other in 2nd grade. My, my how time flies.

I'm not sure I will ever be able to express the wonder, joy, frustration, amazement, and mystery of raising these girls, and of joining my sweet wife on this journey we call life.

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