In addition to having learned a lot about forgiveness, Jean Vanier’s decades of living in community with the mentally handicapped and their assistants taught him about the stages a person passes through as they spend time in community:
[There are] four great crises of community life. The first – which is certainly the least hard – comes when we arrive. There are always parts of us which cling to the values we have left behind. The second is the discovery that the community is not as perfect as we had thought, that it has its weaknesses and flaws. The ideal and our illusions crumble; we are faced with reality. The third is when we feel misunderstood and even rejected by the community, when, for example, we are not elected to a position of responsibility, or do not get a job we had hoped for. And the fourth is the hardest: our disappointment with ourselves because of all the anger, jealousies, and frustrations that boil up in us.
If we are to become totally integrated into a community, we must know how to pass through these crises. They are all new deepenings – movements towards inner freedom. They all imply the losing of illusions and the gradual welcoming of reality as it is.