Triads, Trios, triplets, trinity – I am not sure why I find threes so intriguing. For instance, I could not help noticing and being thrilled by this cluster of three beautiful orchids, this stand with three different species of bromeliads and this ackee pod right now with three fused segments.
I love flowers, perhaps as much as, or more than I love books. So my mind wanders from these three flowers, three plants, three pods to three books which I have written since my retirement. They memorialise for me and hopefully for others, three important institutions which have played significant roles in western society and no less so, in my own life – the church, the school and the workplace.
My church experience has taken different twists and turns but in many ways, has been a constant. It has been embued with reverence for God, regard for others, and has provided a dimly lit path to greater understanding.
The earliest of the three books is A History of St. Philip’s Parish Church 1640 – 2016. It is a story of the journey of an Anglican church in rural Barbados, in the parish of St Philip, within the framework of a country going through phases of slavery, emancipation and independence. Though focused on that geographical reality, the social reality could well apply to any country of the English Speaking Caribbean.
The book recounts the lives and work of priests and people and looks at the survival of the church, in spite of disasters – both hurricanes and fire. The book celebrates the resilience of a people, emancipated from slavery and shows the place that they occupied in the church through times of plenty and times of need. It recalls the experiences of regular people who became stalwarts of the church. It weaves their stories into a tapestry, the threads of which come from documented reports and engaging photographic records spanning a few centuries. Copies of this book are still available from the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, The Garrison, Barbados. Proceeds from the sale go the St Philips’ Parish Church.
The Barbados Community College is one of the institutions in which I worked for many years. It was an impactful experience because of my youth and enthusiasm and the pioneering personal and institutional development opportunities which it provided. The book examines the global community college movement, the entrance to it and coming on board of Barbados in 1969, amid political controversy.
It looks at the emergence of community college- like institution across the region within a globalized world. Specifically , it recounts for those who may not know and for those who have forgotten or would like to forget, the many leaders who worked hard to conserve and change a developing institution which needed to re-imagine and recreate itself. The book – The Barbados Community College Experience – Leading the Anglophone Caribbean in a Global Movement is published and available now from the University of the West Indies Press.
The third book harks back to my early life in rural Jamaica in a country that had been emancipated from slavery for just over a century. Through the agency of the schools and other institutions, it was in the process of reshaping an inherited colonial educational system to meet its own aspirations and needs. The perspective is from that of a child who experienced in the 1960s a small Jamaica High School in the final days of its enterprising founder, Iris B Simpson; a teenager who learned a lot about life and school and opportunities under the watchful eyes of Principal O. S Fisher, and an adult who watched and felt the conservation and changes of the school through the eyes of younger siblings, the words in correspondence, and the cameras of newspapers. There is much more that can be discovered about educational institutions and education in a changing society, from that third book: Ferncourt High School 1938 – 2018: A Story of Enterprise, Access and Opportunity.
What are three things that these books have in common? First, they are all reflective – looking back on facts and lifting up people for their work and contribution. Second, they examine conservation and change – inside and out. Third, they celebrate possibilities.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul concluded :
And now abideth these three – Faith, hope and charity and the greatest of these is charity/ love. ! Corinthians 13:13.
As I look back on my life, these three have played a role. Faith has propelled me to this point. Hope has sustained me as the wind beneath my sails. Love has motivated me not only to lift up others, particularly the disadvantaged, but also to show gratitude to three institutions which have helped me along the way.