Sr. Hellen is my friend and mentor. She is an Assumption Sister of Nairobi and moved from Kenya several years ago to work in Jamaica. She is a nurse and runs a clinic as well as an HIV/Aids outreach ministry. She is one of my heroes and has some lovely catch phrases that I repeat often. My favorite?
Love one another.
Love, our favorite notion. We humans talk about love all the time it seems. The idea of love can consume our thoughts, conversations, and goals so easily. It often is the focal point of our art and undeniably the most common subject matter of music. A few musical geniuses in particular captured the simplicity of love: Bob Marley’s “One Love” and the Beatles’ “All you need is love.”
Sr. Hellen’s modest phrase, love one another, reminds me in the same way of loves simplicity; keeping in mind that simple does not equal easy, and love is not a warm fuzzy feeling. By being around her I have learned what unconditional love is. She loves her friends in Jamaica and her family back in Kenya. She loves those who take advantage of her. She loves those who let her down. She loves those she knows so well, and those she only knows from seeing them occasionally in town. She loves every person who walks into the Santa Cruz Clinic and every person who comes to the HIV support group. I know its love because it is straight out of the word of the Lord:
“Love is patient, love is kind. Its does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…”
This popular passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 is what we hear at weddings when everyone is supposed to be perfectly in love, right? Imagine trying to love everyone, strangers and spouses alike, so carefully.
Last week on Easter, we celebrate someone with a love so intense that He gave His life for us, for those he loved, even those who did not know or love him back. In small beautiful ways the Brothers, Sisters, Priests and many site mentors the volunteers work with show us how to share this same love through the work they do for the people of Jamaica. They work tirelessly in clinics, schools, and communities and show us that what we are doing holds merit, and no matter how weak we find ourselves, we can find strength to come back and love tomorrow.