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Thanks to Spinach…

The Holy Spirit had asked me to go to Northern Ireland. Then, after 15 years, asked me to go to England. I travelled by boat, crossing the Irish Sea for 8 hours to reach England.

Since moving to London, I’ve been discovering “new worlds”. The community has been present here for over 30 years on the 13th floor of the tower block overlooking this big city. What struck me first is its multicultural diversity and energy. Many people living in London can trace their roots throughout the world: to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean…

Since I moved here, every morning on the way to Mass, I pass by a small, lovely vegetable garden. Each time I appreciate the beautiful spinach growing there. One day, a man called to me and gave me a bag full of spinach. He is from Bangladesh. My first friendship with a Muslim person began with spinach! At the beginning of Ramadan. I gave him a small pot of flax which I had brought from Northern Ireland in memory of Irish linen. It has grown very well in his garden. After spinach, he planted potatoes. One morning he showed me a pot of flax with its beautiful blue flowers and asked me, “How is your friend?” (l sr Catharine Helen who lives with me). And he gave me a bag of potatoes which he was harvesting.

One more discovery is a community garden where many people walk by. One day, as I passed by, I found several old-fashioned little suitcases with tags. They were placed under the trees. In my curiosity, I went to have a look. They were in memory of Jamaican people’s arrival in England in 1948. Each tag had their name, occupation, such as musician, dress maker etc. On one tag, it was a little boy age 4. I thought of their joys and sorrows, of the new life they had started in England. Perhaps they settled in this local area of Hackney, and their families were celebrating their arrival.

Through 30 years of presence here, we have made many faithful Caribbean friends who come to chat and pray with us. I feel very close to these migrants who settled in this area. Now England is experiencing a new migration which is very different from the migration after World War II. Many people are seeking to enter England from their troubled home lands.

L.Sr. Magdalena-Emiko