In Becoming Human Jean Vanier writes,

“As humans we crave belonging, we need the connectedness to others that brings security, but this connectedness can prevent the natural movement and evolution that we need in our lives. It can also get in the way of creativity and stifle the natural loneliness that pushes us to discover something new, that pushes us closer to God. This loneliness is the loneliness of the individual who steps out from the group, who takes a chance on what can be discovered and done outside of the norm.

“So here is the paradox: as humans we are caught between competing drives, the drive to belong, to fit in and be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and the drive to let our deepest selves rise up, to walk alone, to refuse the accepted and the comfortable, and this can mean, at least for a time, the acceptance of anguish. It is in the group that we discover what we have in common. It is as individuals that we discover a personal relationship with God. We must find a way to balance our two opposing impulses.” (18-19)

Love Transforms Chaos

“There are seven aspects of love that seem necessary for the transformation of the heart that is profoundly alone. They are: to reveal, to understand, to communicate, to celebrate, to empower, to be in communication with another, and to forgive.

“The first and key aspect is to reveal. To reveal someone’s beauty is to reveal their value by giving them time, attention and tenderness. To love is not just to do something for them but to reveal to them their own uniqueness.. the revelation that heals takes time.

“The second aspect is to understand. If no one understands us, how can we find our own inner peace? [In particular, those who have lived in chaos need the security of order].

“The third aspect is communication. Just as we need to be understood, we need to understand ourselves and for that we need help. To name something is to call it out of chaos. It is a terrible thing when certain realities are unspoken, unnamed and hidden. And here is a profound truth: understanding, as well as truth, come not only from the intellect but from the body.

“The fourth aspect of love is celebration. It is not enough to reveal to people their value, to understand and care for them, we must also celebrate them. Every person needs to also be a source of joy. Only when all our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self images be transformed.

“The fifth aspect of love is empowerment. It is not just a question of doing things for others, but of helping people do things for themselves, helping them to discover the meaning of their lives. To love means to empower. With a sense of personal responsibility grows respect for others. When we are empowered we begin to observe the fabric of community and make the effort to love and respect others. Empowerment is much like the role of the midwife.

“Love flows into communion, the sixth aspect of love. Communion is mutual trust, mutual belonging; it is the to and fro movement of love between two people when each one gives and each one receives. Communion is mutual vulnerability and openness one to the other; it is liberation for both where both are allowed to be themselves and grow in greater freedom and openness to others and to the universe.

“Communion is at the heart of the mystery of our humanity. It means accepting the presence of another inside oneself, as well as accepting the reciprocal call to enter into another. Communion implies the security and insecurity of trust, a constant struggle against all the powers of fear and selfishness in us, as well as the resilient human need to control another.”

Beloved, let us love one another
for love is of God
and whoever loves
is born of God and knows God.

“The seventh and final aspect of love is to forgive. In order to make the journey out of chaos, we need unconditional love. But no human being can fully respond to that need.”

More… Listen to the entire text of Becoming Human – The Massey Lectures, 1998.