Laurent, revelation of the Mystery of Presence Laurent, révélation du Mystère de la Présence

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Laurent, revelation of the Mystery of Presence

After about fifteen years spent in psychiatric hospital, Laurent was about eighteen when he came to l’Arche.He was severely physically and mentally handicapped/His parents had had a very hard time looking at Laurent just as he was. He had never ben able to walk or eat by himself, always being in a state of great dependence. Little silent prophet, he went back to the Father, joining Jesus on Ash Wednesday 1191. The image of ’Christ tortured on a stake’ was what came to mind seeing Laurent, slumped, with his head thrown back on his wheelchair and yet he had such a beautiful face.

Impossible to catch his gaze, it’s already off elsewhere! The assistant who comes into contact with Laurent’s body as he cares for him cannot not ask questions. Who is Laurent? From time to time, his gaze is so deep and mysterious, plunged in the reality around him, and if I find myself to be in his field of vison, I won’t ever forget this gaze. For sure, Laurent calls for a presence and for a constant presence at his side, but can he be a determining factor for someone to follow him in his path of solitude? He asks for nothing. However he is sensitive to his surroundings and what we feel close to him is the same as we feel at the chapel : someone is there, but hidden. How can we discover him and enter into relationship with him? Laurent’s life takes on a meaning as we read the Good News announced to the poor.It is amazing to hear what assistants say when they accompany Laurent to mass-they all say then it is different, that there is a new intensity in the Presence of Jesus, a unique compassion that is given which brings to them a new communion never known before.

There is a Presence of Jesus on the altar and one in the heart of the person the assistant who accompanies Laurent during the celebration. The assistant can receive this presence on the level of his or her heart. And so a new way is discovered as to how to serve the poor and united in this common experience community life will take on another dimension. For God is indeed here, present. Such a strong experience can provoke the gift of Jesus in the Church, which becomes Laurent’s Church, and of all those who participate with him in the mystery of Jesus in a very intimate way. There is a privileged way of being close to Laurent, a bit like parents who are naturally ’consecrated’ to their children. By this total and faithful presence they permit him to draw from them the sap which will allow them, one day, to go beyond themselves. Is there not

something of a spiritual maternity paternity that joins Laurent in the integral development of who is?

Yes, Laurent can provoke the assistant, by silently asking the complete gift of the assistant, to a total gift of himself to the Church : ’Do I have a price in your eyes? Are you capable of giving up your self and follow a path of hidden Good News for the Kingdom? If I have value for you, then life is going to have a meaning and the Words of the Gospel will surely not be in vain. This maternal paternal love truly joins the other person, the ’handicapped, at the heart of such a poor life and will bring up forces of strength and of self-giving in the assistant that they would never have dreamt of at the beginning. Certainly a balance needs to be found . The ’living with’ will not fill all the opening provoked by the person with a disability. It is nevertheless true that Laurent will have contributed in ’bringing to birth’ the assistant to the Life of Christ, and this assistant will also be able to contribute once again to bringing Laurent to birth in his full humanity where he can blossom forth. To allow myself be taken along by Love that provokes the ’presence’ of Laurent makes me come back to the source of the Revelation of Love, the Gift of God, the Holy Spirit. This path leads me to the Annunciation, to the unforgettable encounter with Mary.