Daily Thoughts from Jean Vanier - 5/31/09

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Jason’s Uncanny Gift

After being away for a month attending the L’Arche International meeting and touring India, I went to Alleluia House to help Jason get started for the day. Though, when not on the road, I had been coming for ten years to be with him once a week, this had been a long stretch away. I don’t know why I was feeling self-conscious that morning—it was not as if Jason could have forgotten me, or that I had forgotten how to be with him. I just felt uneasy and a bit harried heading into the house a few minutes after 7 o’clock.

As always, I knocked and opened Jason’s door to let him know that I was there, then went to run his bath. As he headed into the bathroom, Jason was smiling broadly. He shared an affectionate fist bump, then a two finger shake, and then one with his whole hand. Halfway through his bath and again during his shave, he repeated this multiple greeting, his eyes (which do much of his talking) growing brighter, the more he was awake. As he finished dressing, while preparing his breakfast, and then later when he’d finished eating, Jason continued these multiple greetings adding a few gentle pats to my arm. In all the years I’ve known him, he’d never greeted me so affectionately. Of course, I forgot all my doubts through the sheer joy of his extravagant welcome.

Though I delighted in the attention, I wondered if it was just a new routine that Jason had developed while I was away and had been sharing with all his friends. Later, I asked his good friend, Peter, if Jason had developed a new morning ritual of continuous, joyful greetings. He said, "No. I think he was just really glad to see you because he missed you. He did the same for me when I returned after being away in the summer." I am not sure which is more embarrassing—how much I doubt that someone could miss me, or how great it felt to be shown such deep affection. Either way, I know that Jason has an uncanny gift of welcoming me to be at home.

John Guido, L’Arche Toronto, Coordinator for L’Arche Ontario



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