Jamaica: Hope in a Hospice

It was a moment I knew I would never forget. I can still see it now:

Yvonne, a woman whose home had become this small hospice in the middle of a Jamaican town, shifts her gaze slowly around the rather tiny room…the same room that contained the  entirety of her current living space. We had been talking for a while.

But what she said next took me completely off guard: 

“God is good. I’ve lived a good life.” She takes a second to pause again as she formulates the words: “He has been good to me. I am happy with that.”

There was no window in the room. However, some natural light spilled onto her face from those of the adjoining rooms. A gentle breeze crept in as well. She sat in a chair as a hospice worker firmly braided her hair.

Originally, I came into the hospice with the mindset that it would be a really somber experience. I figured that the patients would be nearing death in a way that would be really difficult to face. However, that wasn’t what I found. What I found was hope: hope where the world says there shouldn’t be…where the world says you have hit the end….that the fight has been lost and you are no longer significant.

See, when given the choice of where to do outreach, I chose the hospice because I figured that if I were about to die, I wouldn’t want to be alone. I wanted to show these people that we loved them and that God hadn’t forgotten about them.

But here’s the thing I didn’t expect to see: they were NOT alone. And that was CLEAR. I had forgotten that with the reach of God’s fingers, there are NO “forgotten people”. In a city as large as New York or in one as small as Montego Bay…God knows them all. Not only that, but He CARES for them all.

But when we stray away from God, it’s common to think that He just forgets about us. Or even if we don’t stray, we assume that if we do, we will simply be left behind by our Lord…of no importance to Him. What is one life among so many others?

I think this is because we neglect to realize that Jesus that didn’t just die for ALL, but for YOU. Yes, you. We often forget that the macro-redemption of humanity is also a micro-redemption of our own individual selves. You aren’t excused from His grace.

In other words, if Christ were given the choice to die on that cross for no one else but YOU, He would STILL DO IT.

 He would die for Yvonne too.

That’s truly crazy to me- even as I sit here writing it. It sounds too good to be true. In a world full of people constantly letting us down, not sticking to their word, and straight up forgetting about our worth as human beings, dying for someone for the sake of real love sounds insane. If someone asked you to die for them..JUST for them…would you do it?

I’d like to say that I would. But I know the truth in my human heart that I would find any possible way out of it. I would make excuses. I would remove myself from the situation. I would let fear control me. I would run. 

That’s the difference between Jesus and us. While we run away FROM life or death situations, He runs TO them.

And redeems them.

So while some people see a hospice and shed a tear, Jesus sheds a tear and comes NEAR. But more than that, I knew as I looked intently into the eyes of Yvonne that He was HERE. He’s always HERE. In the moments you wish you could rewrite. In the days where you feel ashamed of yourself for straying away from God. In a small hospice tucked on a mountainside of Jamaica.

& Yvonne is proof of this:

See, Yvonne is no super human. She is dying…as we all are and someday will do. But she was happy. She had real joy. She looked at her circumstances and the brokenness that accompanied it…but still saw Jesus.

The world would look at her and say death is coming. However, after talking to her, I’m pretty sure she would look at you in the eye and say that no, instead: JESUS is coming.

 

 

Follow the Ivy

 

Something reaches for me.

It calls me close.

It beckons me to come near.

To just see.

To just wander…

To wander away from what I know

To wander away from comfort.

To wonder if there’s more

Than what I’ve been living for.

More than music

More than dance

More than people

More than my own treasured thoughts.

It is a VINE.

It grows closer and closer

Like it’s pursuing me.

It does not let obstacles in the undergrowth hinder its movement.

It comes ever closer

Even in the midst of darkness and impediments

It will not be overcome.

I reach out…

To just touch it.

I let the palm of my hand barely grace it.

It isn’t delicate.

It then wraps itself about my fingers.

I instinctively increase my grip in return.

I don’t ever want to let go.

It then starts to move again-

Taking me with it.

I follow the vine as it carries me.

Then the darkness suddenly closes in.

I feel suffocation.

I feel like I am falling.

I tighten my grip around the vine.

I shut my eyes.

I could always rip my hand out.

This is getting scary.

I don’t know if I want to follow anymore.

The vine is leading me

Into the unknown.

But I realize that without the vine,

I’d be lost.

The darkness would CONSUME me.

I don’t SEE a way out.

So I just keep holding on.

Hoping.

There is beauty in surrender.

So I surrendered to the vine.

Not the darkness.

I open my eyes again.

There is light.

There is peace.

The sky is an azure blue.

It is CONSUMED by light from the sun.

My grip to the vine doesn’t loosen though.

This is my life line now.

I survived.

And now I thrive.

Am I in Heaven?

No.

This is life.

This is life in Christ.

For He is the Vine and I am but a branch.

I rely on Him for strength.

On my own,

I am nothing.

He leads me through the dark and into the light.

But yet

In the dark,

There is still light.

HE is the light.

And He SHINES.

In the dark,

His presence is declared brighter

Than I ever even knew.

He does not just lead us through-

He USES our darkness

Our ashes

Our pain

And our uncertainty

For beauty.

For purpose.

For good.

{God is so beautiful. He intertwines our hearts with the ivy of His perfection. He allows us to grow from His strength. All we must do is hold onto the source and we gain life…life that grows and grows. It spreads intentionally to every crevice. It doesn’t stop. And it won’t until the whole earth is intimately intertwined with the knowledge of His promises…an arm extended in grace…like ivy reaching for the hearts of all of humankind.}

~|| Follow the ivy.||~