So, tomorrow I am going on a retreat at La Ferme, the retreat center for L’Arche. What’s more, the retreat is being led by Jean Vanier. I still can’t quite believe it. Two years ago, I read his memoirs and was amazed by his faith and wisdom; last summer I had the chance to visit La Ferme and to meet Jean; and now, I am looking forward to a whole weekend and a retreat (in English!) led by Jean Vanier.
What amazed me most in the memoir in letters was his consistent request: ‘pray that I remain faithful to Jesus’. Even after L’Arche was an international organisation, having won him praise from many quarters (he was nominated for the Nobel peace prize), the main thing was still faithfulness to Jesus.
I admit to being a little bit apprehensive. ‘Healed by those we rejected’, which is the title of the retreat, sounds reasonably intense. My usual retreat involves silence and the daily office with a handful of Benedictine nuns. It’s wonderful. Nobody leads it; there is no ‘input’–except of course there are psalms and Scripture readings, hymns and daily Mass. This is a step outside of my comfort zone.
I imagine there will be something to be said about it next week. In the meantime–pray that I respond faithfully to whatever Jesus has to say to me through Jean, and through the weekend.