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Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Escape Solitary Confinement

By Jean Vanier

I believe that the forces of life and the desires for communion are greater than the forces of death and hatred. At some moment in each of our lives there is an event that calls us to freedom and openness. At that point of epiphany we want to get out of the hole of depression and anger. We realize we are imprisoned in ourselves or our group, finding it difficult to relate to others.

A few years ago, Fred, a man in prison wrote to me. He had committed a serious crime and had gone to jail. One day he became violent with other inmates and ended up in solitary confinement. Aware that he had lost everything – his family, his work, his mobility, as well as his dignity and self-respect – he wanted to die. But suddenly, there rose up in him what he called “tiny stars of love,” it was an urge to find himself and to rediscover love. It was a moment of grace. For many of us, it's only when we touch rock bottom, when all seems lost, that this tiny light of hope begins to shine. We become aware not only of all the darkness in ourselves, but also the light of hope. At that moment, ascension begins.

To open up to others implies not only an awareness of our own fears, darkness and brokenness, but also the presence of a Light [God], a Love and an Energy that will give the desire to move forwards to openness and not let ourselves be controlled by the darkness.

Jean Vanier is the founder of l’Arche, an international network of communities for the mentally disabled.
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