I am writing to let you know how much your messages, prayers, affection, and friendship have touched me. They sustain me, and if I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil because my Creator is with me, and you as well, in communion.
The doctor had told me that things would get worse before they got better. I had not understood the full meaning of his words. Every day is different. Some days I wake up wrapped in a fog of pain, nausea, medication, fatigue, and fever. I find it difficult to use my mind then. But my soul is lifted up towards the light that I see beyond the fog. Other days like today, although I am very weak, I have clarity that allows me to appreciate everything I see as if I were seeing it for the first time. And then, in those moments, your friendship becomes love for me. For that I thank you with all my heart.
At times, I have experienced beautiful epiphanies, such as the one I had when I was walking with Nellie-France. Looking up at the top of the trees outlined against the sky, I was admiring out loud the beauty of God’s creation. And then we both saw a tiny rainbow, like a postage stamp in the middle of the blue sky. We were dumbfounded, like the disciples at the transfiguration, doubting reality and thinking we might be hallucinating. Nellie had her telephone with her, so I told her to take a picture. The little rainbow was there, on the photograph.
Every day strengthens me in my faith and also reminds me of the meaning of life, which is the communion we share with each other. Thank you for your love and friendship.
I send you my love, with a joyful heart,
Jean – 07/02/2017
A Beautiful and Generous Soul: Rest in Peace
We are sad to share the news that Jean Lanier, our LLI Board Chair and long time friend of L’Arche, died on July 19 after a brief illness. Jean inspired all who knew him with his spirit of kindness, generosity, and hope. His commitment to L’Arche both on Long Island and around the world was a living example of the faithfulness and love at the heart of L’Arche’s mission. Our prayers are with his wife Judith and his family. We will miss him deeply.
Jean’s friendship with L’Arche goes back many years before our Long Island community was founded. A Frenchman who split his time between France and the U.S., Jean had a long relationship with L’Arche founder Jean Vanier (yes, he did joke about their having almost the same name!). Inspired by Vanier and a relationship with L’Arche Paris, foyer Viim Jean became a good friend of L’Arche, and most recently served as the Board President of the L’Arche International Foundation. He was soon inspired to help create L’Arche close to his US home.
Jean deeply believed in the vision of opening a L’Arche community on Long Island, and worked tirelessly to help make that happen. He was involved in every stage of the long process, eventually accepting the role of Board Chair. Under his leadership, L’Arche LI completed the renovation of our Riverhead house and welcomed our first Core Members. Through all the joys and struggles of founding a new community, Jean was a steady presence of faith and optimism. No matter what obstacles arose, Jean would always say, “I’m not worried. It will be fine!” And he was right.
Jean enjoyed a great deal of success in the business world, but his heart was grounded in values that transcended material success. He had a deep and authentic faith in the goodness of God and the responsibility of human beings to lift each other up in mutual relationships of love. He lived this faith every day with his family, colleagues, and friends in L’Arche and beyond, and so many were inspired by it.
Jean’s gift of spirituality shined through profoundly in the last weeks of his life. Even as he was facing death, he gave thanks to God and shared with his friends his vision of strength and hope. Until his last moments, he was inspired to gratitude by the beauty of creation and the sense of being surrounded by love. Just a week before he died, Jean wrote these words to his friends in the community: “Every day strengthens me in my faith and also reminds me of the meaning of life, which is the communion we share with each other.”
We can treasure these words as one more gift from our friend Jean, who will always be a part of the communion we share as the extended family of L’Arche Long Island. His legacy lives on in us all, whenever we welcome each other in a spirit of communion.
A memorial funeral mass to celebrate the life of Jean Lanier will be held Monday July 24th
10 am at Luke’s Episcopal Church, 18 James Lane, East Hampton, NY 11937.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions be sent to L’Arche Long Island
PO Box 354, Riverhead NY 11901-8052