Krista's interview with Jean Vanier called The Wisdom of Tenderness was one of my favorites, especially because I have some experience working with adults with special needs. I looked through the transcript to find the direct quote to post here, and it gave me chills to read it again. At one point, Jean Vanier talks about his niece who died of AIDs and how, although she claimed to not be a "believer," he was certain she would experience eternal life, alluding to the time she made cakes for some Turkish immigrants in her apartment building. He goes on to explain how once you experience the peace of Jesus, that experience transcends any reasoning or logic we might use to understand the divine.
The bit that follows is incredibly memorable for me:
Mr. Vanier: It's like my little niece who died of AIDS, and she wasn't a believer. She said, 'What it's going to be like?' And I said, 'Well, you're going to fall asleep. And when you wake up, you'll be in such joy, such peace. Something that you've never, never lived before.' And she said, 'But I'm not a believer.' I said, 'But you remember when you're in that apartment in Paris and there were some Turkish immigrants that you make cakes for them. I've always seen you as somebody kind. And so your kindness you'll find, it'll be OK. And then the rest we will discover. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be wonderful.'
Ms. Tippett: This is another something you know, clearly. You know this. And all of your philosophy, all of your studies can't explain that to you, something you know.
Mr. Vanier: Yes. Something that we have experienced — you see, if you just experience somewhere the peace of Jesus, the peace of being with other people, the peace of loving people. Well — and that experience transcends everything, the ideas we might have, because it's that experience where we live trust.
That last quote of Jean Vanier I have written on a paper which I've taped near my bed. It has traveled to three different houses with me already. When I move, it moves with me. It's an incredibly touching moment and everytime I reread the quote it strikes a chord within me that feels something like truth.
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