Lent Day Eight — Thursday

Kneeler 140

Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;

2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.

3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.

What is this love? This little word is so misused. But somewhere we don't quite know what it is. And my experience in L'Arche, as in Faith and Light — my experience with people like the little boy of eleven, or the little Moses — is that love has a special connotation, it means something very special. To love is not first of all to do things for other people, because we can do things for people and hurt them. We can do things for people and make them feel that they're no good, that they can't do it themselves. So what is this love?

First of all, to love is to reveal. And what do we reveal when we love someone? "You're special. You're unique. You're beautiful. Your life has a meaning." And how do we reveal that "you are beautiful, you are special"? This revelation which is primary — which is not first of all revealing what is no good, revealing the handicap or judging people. No, it is a way of looking at people, of touching people, of listening to people, of being attentive to people — and so revealing to them that they are special. Isn't that how a mother loves her little child. Does the mother give more to the child, or does the child give more to the mother?

But somewhere, to love is to reveal—through our eyes and hands and flesh. The Word became, so our flesh becomes word. So that through our flesh, through our eyes and hands, and listening and attention, we reveal to people. But this is not some passing moment, because this revelation is a revelation of fidelity. It is a consciousness of belonging. Somewhere we belong to each other. There is a covenant between us. So to love is to reveal.

Address of Jean Vanier at Lambeth Vigil (First Service) 30 July 1998

St Philip's Anglican Church,
cnr Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602.