I’ve never been good at starting blog posts. I have always found it to be a bit awkward. So instead of just getting right to it, allow me to tell a joke instead:
What do you get when you cross a Jamaican and a ginger?
So now that the intro is finished, allow me to just get straight to it. I have been reading the bible more here in Jamaica than I ever have in the past. Which is really saying something considering I took an entire course on scripture and the New and Old Testament in college. Every couple days I find myself with a Bible in hand reading it to someone either at the infirmary, with someone at the Spalding Hospital, or even just in the comfort of our house for spirituality night. And one passage keeps popping up over and over again that has given me the opportunity to more deeply reflect on it. In Proverbs it states,
“Iron sharpens iron. So one man sharpens another.” (27:17)
I have found this passage to mean more to my life now than ever before. In so many ways, these two sentences have shaped the way I have been encompassing ministry over the last month. And let me tell you, it’s been easier than I thought it would be. But that is of no thanks to myself, and all because of the mentors who surround me. To start, I need to talk about Brother Mike. Br. Mike is a Passionist brother who has been in Jamaica for 50 years. He has dedicated his life to the Manchester Infirmary, where he spends all of his energy visiting, caring and providing for those living at the Infirmary. He is a man whose charm is his honesty, and whose charism is passion, dedication, and loyalty. I have been able to work with Br. Mike at the infirmary and learn what it means to tenderly love as a man of God.
The next mentor I want to mention, and the real reason as to why I am writing a blog post on this subject, is Fr Lucian. Fr. Lucian, as I am sure many who are reading this knows, is the director and founder of the Passionist Volunteers International. Just recently, Fr. Lucian has announced that he is stepping back from the leadership role of PVI and letting another fill his big shoes. Although I could write an entire blog on this man and the type of person he is, I will step back and let the professionals do it when he is ready. (I never asked permission to write about him. So if you’re reading this now Fr. Lucian, I’m sorry and I hope it’s okay! I promise I won’t say anything bad about you such as your bad taste in football teams, or tell any embarrassing stories such as the time you presided mass in Jamaica looking like a ghost because you never properly rubbed all the sunscreen in)! But one thing I will say about Fr. Lucian is that he has been a mentor to all of us here in Jamaica. I don’t mean just the PVI’s, but every person he encounters while in this beautiful country. He tagged along one day with me to visit my church community in Morgan Forest and spent the day teaching the kids magic tricks. I still get asked every time I go if the “old white man” is with me. (Sidenote: it took me the longest time to understand who they were asking about. No one would describe Fr. Lucian as old. But alas, my children do.) Fr. Lucian has taught me what it means to love God, embrace your true self, and to never give up on something you are passionate about.
The last mentor who ‘sharpens my iron’ daily are the Jamaicans. Every one of them. Jamaicans have such an unbelievable way about themselves. Jamaicans value hard work, integrity, ownership, and protection of family above all else. They are instilling in me values and characteristics that I pray I bring home with me. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings and see how much I continue to grow and learn. I have definitely been sharpened by man and it is because of that sharpening that I have the strength to go out every day.
So as I conclude this blog, let me end with this: If you made it this far, you deserve the answer to the joke!
Hope it was worth it! God bless.