Lock Mawhinney
Founder, L'Arche Comox Vallery, BC, Canada

My first exposure to Jean Vanier occurred at a Faith & Sharing Retreat in Victoria B.C. in 1983. It was for me, a transforming experience, one in which the words of the Gospel took on flesh and opened up a path in my life that I felt personally invited to follow. The mystery of the Gospel, the Mission of Jesus and the discovery that spiritual strength lay hidden in weakness, woundedness and rejection were revealed to me that week through the gently, yet probing words of Jean Vanier. “Who can believe? Who can believe this message?” he would cry out. I felt an inner urge to cry in return that “yes, I can believe but.....?” I believe the Holy Spirit, through the words of Jean, changed the direction of my life (and that of my family I dare say) - an experience of a true metanoia - a change of heart.I have lived long enough to reflect back over those now distant years and continue to give thanks for those five days in the late summer of ’83. In fact I believe a seed was planted then, a very small seed but very full of life’s potential. The seed was a vision, a vision of a treasure laying hidden in a field. The field was my everyday life and the lives of my close friends. And the treasure was L’Arche.From this initial “Inspiration” developed a journey, albeit a zig-zag one, one who’s lengthy destiny was to “bring L’Arche home to the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.” March 16th of the Jubilee Year 2000, some seventeen years since Jean called out “Who can believe?”, saw the doors of Jubilee House swing open to warmly welcome our founding core member, a gentleman by the name of Cory Pagnoni, birthing us as a new Canadian Probationary Community. Indeed, a Treasure in a Field had been discovered as I quietly mumbled to myself, “Yes, I can believe.”