Listening to Jean Vanier, I realized that I was suddenly feeling heartbroken. I have worked with the severely mentally ill for over a decade and much like the l'arche communities he has developed, the state hospital where I work is its own community. This rich, life affirming and bustling community will be closing in 3 months due to budget cuts and I am so sad to see its passing. It is a community built on trust and collaboration and that undefinable quality-hope. The clients I work with are wounded and by no fault of their own. It is by helping to heal their suffering that I am healed. We are family to some and I see vulnerable souls everyday in my work. I have been so fortunate to have found this community and would like to think that its core goodness could be recreated in the greater community. Jean Vanier gives me hope that this is possible. Our society so often wants to hide the members that we are ashamed of or scared of. I know that humans are the same no matter their upbringing, mental state or disability and the less we fear them the more love we encounter. I have worked with individuals who have given me so much more than I deserve. Their honesty, joy and fortitude have been lessons for me.
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