In Search of Becoming Human

Our February 9th Theology on Tap opened with Nathan’s insight: tonight’s title, “Becoming Human,” implies we are not yet human and that a search to become human exists.

Nathan (an assistant) and Patrick (a core member) were our guest speakers from L’Arche Toronto. L’Arche was founded by Jean Vanier in 1964. It invites people who have developmental disabilities, and those who come to assist them, to live together and share life in family-like settings. Nathan explained: by living together we empower each other to discover our own brokenness. In the process, one becomes vulnerable to the other and learns from the other, irrespective of the other’s disability or vulnerability. Through community living, each person’s gifts are recognized, each person is loved, and each person is affirmed in their value – it is in these actions that opportunities to become human are born.

By his genuine and candid account, Patrick drew us into his emotional experience of leaving home to live at L’Arche. His mom wanted him to stay at home, but for him, “it was a dream to live at L’Arche!” Patrick’s story evoked joy and sorrow. His wisdom and ability to tell his mother “someday you will have to let me go,” was inspiring.

Similarly, Nathan described how the deep longing for friendship that he observed in Doug, a L’Arche resident, allowed him to recognize this same longing within himself. Doug responded to Nathan’s inner pain “in a way that he needed for consolation and comfort.” With clear admiration and respect, Nathan gave other examples of what he learned through community living with Doug.

Nathan and Patrick are living examples that “We need to become more human ourselves in order to help others become human.” Is it possible for us to be like them? Their message that “life is a journey and a search – a search which nourishes” is an inviting one. Will we see the value of vulnerability? Will we take the risk of revealing and accepting vulnerability in ourselves and others so that we can all experience “belonging” and come “to know the goodness in life”?

Article By: Doreen Wan Min Kee. Photo By: Michael David Dizon

Here are a couple of excerpts from Nathan and Patrick's talk: