Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Do you love Jamaica?
Are we willing to give until it hurts? That’s the only way we can be freed from selfishness.
That’s the only way we can become a loving people, a good people, a kind people, a people who bring joy to others, a sacrificing people who seek the good of others over self. When this happens, our cup overflows. We receive much more than we give, and there is sufficient for ourselves and others.
It’s a miracle, way past mathematics. There are some friends that give way past charity. It is generosity! In Jamaica, our poor struggling country, I have experienced charity that shocks, surprises, and moves me deeply. The brothers are always amazed by the kindness of people in Jamaica. They will say over and over, “Jamaicans are amazing in their kindness.” In fact, the kindness and goodness of our people are way past being sensible at times. Jamaicans have learned that there is always something to give, no matter how small.
As the scriptures tell us: “God loves a cheerful giver, and God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything, at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.” The best to give is ourselves, our time, our love.
I remember Nora Bucknour. When I was a little boy, I lived at 42 Old Hope Road, in a little shop that has now been demolished. Nora was our helper. My mother, Janet, and my father, Willie, had come from Richmond, St Mary, with very little finances.
They had to beg their way through half-cousins, uncles and aunts to set up our little shop, Carib Grocery, where we retailed a half-pound of sugar, salt fish, one pound of flour, a half-pound of rice, etc.
My mother was determined to send us to a school that offered good education. My father thought it might have been a waste of time. Working in the little grocery store rented from Mrs Edwards next door would have perhaps helped us much more, he thought.
But my mother’s will was that we be better educated. But soon Loretta and I had two more siblings, Theresa and Michael. My parents worked in the little shop from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Every penny counted.
Nora was the soul of charity. She came to work every day. What a beautiful woman! She loved our family. She was always smiling and cheerful. She helped clean up the three little rooms we had for sleeping. She bathed all of us in a pan of water – Loretta first, me second, and then the two babies. She sang songs about Jesus, and told us Bible stories.
My mother cried and worried about us children: “How will we ever manage to get through school?” Nora was her comforter, a sister to her, while being a second mother to us. She was peaceful and prayerful, and made no demands of us.
Nora always seemed to be smiling, always working, peacefully, steady, giving herself, always present, a loving presence. She is Jamaica for me. I must give back. I must pour out my soul for her and the beautiful people of Jamaica.
- Father Richard Ho Lung is founder of the Missionaries of the Poor charity. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.