Tim Kearney
Cork, Ireland

Being joint leader with Jean Vanier for a large home of 16 core-members and 14 assistants(including live-in and live-out) called Le Val Fleuri in Trosly, France in the early 80’s was indeed a great privilege and source of learning for me. Jean taught me many things, but the thing I remember most clearly are to do with his way of relating to the people with disabilities and assistants in our home .He did so with unfailing respect . He had a great gift of being present to people. Despite being an incredibly busy person, constantly travelling the globe, with a demanding schedule he had that great ability to look you in the eye and to be present to you. It was as if he existed only for you, and with you, at that moment. He had that uncanny ability to call forth the best in you, and to make you feel as if you were the great one and that he was the little one. He made you feel trusted and respected as a person. Not only did he talk about the importance of ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing for’, but he embodied it in his life and actions. He taught me that presence is not just about quantity but about quality, and that time spent in presence to another person is not just about length but about depth. Above all ,he enjoyed life, was fun to be with , and was always up for a laugh. Despite his great intellectual and academic ability, he reflected, for me, the truth of Mahatma Gandi’s famous words: ‘A person’s greatness lies not in their head but in their heart’.