Jean Vanier on “Accompaniment”

Becoming Human by Jean Vanier, Anashi Press Ltd: Toronto, ON 1998.

In Vanier’s chapter, The Path to Freedom, he discusses the art of accompaniment as an essential step to freedom and inner liberation.

“The word “accompaniment,” like the word “companion,” comes from the Latin word cum pane, which means “with bread.” It implies a sharing together, eating together, nourishing together, walking together. The one who accompanies is like a midwife, helping us to come to life, to live more fully. But the accompanier receives life also, and as people open up to each other, a communion of hearts develops between them. They do not clutch on to each other but give life to one another and call each other to greater freedom.” (129-130).

The role of the accompanier:

  1. Puts a name on our inner pain and feelings. Points towards the meaning of our inner pain.
  2. Helps others recognize God’s call to communion, inner liberation, and a greater love of self.
  3. Gives support, reassures, encourages, confirms, opens new doors.
  4. Does not judge or tell others what to do, but reveals what is most beautiful and valuable inside us.

“Accompaniment is at the heart of all human growth” (130).

“We must ask ourselves: Who is walking with me?” (128)


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