four or five years ago i had the opportunity to hear jean vanier, the founder of l'arche, friend of henri nouwen and altogether remarkable human being speak at the university of toronto. unfortunately i do not remember much of what jean said on that cold winter night, but i do remember him telling us that at the heart of l'arche was a belief in the giftedness of each individual. jean said that the true mission of each l'arche assistant was to carefully identify the giftedness of each physically and/or mentally disabled core member of their community and persistently encourage the core members to share their gift with the community and, indeed, with the world. jean then promised the assistants that as we struggled to identify and facilitate the birth of each core member's gift we would be surprised to find that the core members would serve as midwives who helped identify and give birth to our deepest gift as well. in sum, jean said, Christ has called us to serve as midwives for one another as together we seek to fully experience the image of God that is impressed upon each person.
i thought about jean's words today when i read about a friend who is constantly serving as a midwife to someone in his local community.
i also thought about how often i neglect to notice the image of God in others, much less help the individuals i love, much less those i hate, give birth to their greatest gift. far too often i spend my time berating people for their apparent deficiencies rather than loving them enough to help give birth to their greatest gift. Christ have mercy.