"I think fundamentally we're all lonely but we cover up our loneliness. What I have lived is anguish and I think we all live anguish. Anguish is inner agitation. It affects sleep. I think that we are called to discover anguish. You see, anguish is the reality of human beings because we are not God. We haven't all the power in us. We haven't got all the resources that we need. We are people who are mortal and, therefore, there is an element of disintegration which is inside all of us. But we are very frightened of mortality. We're frightened of anguish so we cover it up. We go into the world of dreams or we go into the world of work. We become workaholics. We're frightened of touching."
Jean Vanier is the son of the late Governor General of Canada. He served in both the British and the Canadian Royal Navies, and in 1950 left the navy to study and teach philosophy in Paris, France. There, through his friendship with a Dominican priest, Father Thomas Philippe, he became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with mental disabilities. Jean felt God's call to do something about it, and invited two men to leave the institutions where they were living and share their lives with him in a real home. That simple act was the beginning of an international movement called L'Arche, French for "The Ark"— a network of more than 100 faith-based communities in 30 countries. At L'Arche, men and women with mental disabilities live together with their care givers in loving and spirit-filled homes.
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