The Freedom of the Childlike
Embracing life and the simple things in all their truth, beauty and goodness, Peter stays rooted in what really matters and experiences a peace and freedom. Though he’ll never have the "freedom" to marry and raise a family, he is free to love and be loved in his L’Arche community. In living at the level of the heart, delighting in the good, as children do so naturally, Peter lives a fulfilling human life. His freedom comes from living according to the full truth of his person and his limitations; living fully in his body, now, the relationships he shares with those in his family and community, and delighting in that profound human good. How many adults have yet to achieve what Peter already possesses?
Peter’s very limitations are the very possibility for his freedom. See, while there is much that he can do on his own, he is also very much dependent on others. But he only reminds me that we all are dependent on others. To be human is to be limited and to have needs, and to need others. Peter and his limitations remind me of this essential truth about myself. I see that I need to embrace the truth about myself that I also need others and I have
limitations. But those needs do not make me less human or free. In embracing this universal human reality--that I am actually not autonomous and self-sufficient--I discover the freedom of being myself and entering into communion and relationship. Really, this is where I exercise my freedom in the most profound way– in relationship and in loving others.
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Maria Reilander is a graduate of the John Paul II Institute in Washington, DC, and works at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada where she is the Director of Development and teaches courses in theological anthropology. She is a catechist with her local Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program and loves to spend time with her nieces and nephews. Her brother Peter is a thriving member of the L'Arche Arnprior, Ontario community.