“In the end, the most important thing is not to do things for people who are poor and in distress, but to enter into relationship with them, to be with them and help them find confidence in themselves and discover their own gifts.” — Jean Vanier
I read this quote today and thought, “this is the deepest work of writinginsideVT for me.” Writing is the vehicle we utilize with incarcerated women to develop personal voice and create community together.
But it is unconditional presence, openness, receptivity, vulnerability, and a willingness to be ‘changed’ by the women-writers that creates a deep and abiding mutual trust. First-time participants comment on the palpable “good vibes in the room” and the “non-judgemental atmosphere.”
That’s why I resonate with Jean Vanier’s words above. He founded L’Arche four decades ago, international communities of people living side-by-side with developmentally disabled persons. He created this model believing that “those we lock away and think worthless have the power to teach and even to heal us.” We are all broken in seen and unseen ways, and our willingness to enter into parallel relationship, even if for a time, facilitates a healing bridge for all.