Daily Thoughts from Jean Vanier - 9/17/09

// Jean Vanier English


Remembering Bill

A Note: The following is an excerpt from one of many letters of condolence sent to the people of L’Arche Daybreak when Bill Van Buren died last spring. In 1969, Bill was the founding member of the first L’Arche community outside France. An affable and outgoing individual, over the years, besides working on the farm and in the Woodery and Craft Studio, Bill welcomed many assistants and visitors to Daybreak. During the years that Henri Nouwen lived at Daybreak, he often invited Bill to accompany him on speaking engagements.

"I’m thinking of you so much as you mourn the loss of Bill—such intimate and long friendships are rare and complex, and it is all the harder to process their loss. Bill was always a very special person to me. Over the years he was ever ready to share a joke or a story, remember his travels with Henri, and always, always to make me feel that I was being welcomed home. I remember how wonderful he was with the boys I brought from St. Peter’s when I was teaching. They gravitated towards Bill—they loved his jokes and appreciated his graciousness and generosity in sharing himself and his stories with them. I have been a great fan of Bill’s work in ceramics and have given pieces to friends over the years— so Bill lives on in the lives of many he never even met! I am thinking also of the hundreds of people who heard Bill speak with Henri—these people too have been changed by Bill’s presence and wacky humor. I will have the ’holy water’ joke in my head, in Bill’s voice, forever! ’How do you make holy water?’ ‘You boil the hell out of it!’"

Lisa Cataldo, friend of L’Arche Daybreak living in NYC.

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