The power of weakness

From a long and moving theological and philosophical essay about suffering and human society, by Xavier Le Pichon, a geophysicist (a key figure in the development of plate techtonics) who has lived for many years at L’Arche and other communities centered around members who suffer from mental illness. He discusses the ideas in his essay in a wonderful 1hr public radio interview here.

Anybody who has experienced fatherhood or motherhood knows about the power of the infants. The arrival of a baby completely changes the structure and life of the whole family. One could say actually that the infant is the one who has the authority. The activities of the whole family are ordered to his needs. What is true for infants is also true for sick, handicapped and aged people. As I have argued above, they have a real power of reorganization of the human communities. But I believe that the experience repeatedly made by humans is that there is something beyond. Entering into relation with the weak may become an experience of discovery and acceptation of our own weaknesses. Discovering indeed that whenever I recognize that I am weak, then I am strong. And entering through this experience into a world of fragility and vulnerability that we share with our friends who have made the same experience, a world that becomes a world of kindness, mercy and love.


from “Ecce Homo (Behold Humanity),” by Xavier Le Pichon, reprinted at Speaking of Faith, 25 June 2009

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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