It has been about a year since Jamie first arrived at L’Arche Cape Breton. Sturdily built and well over six feet tall, Jamie is a gentle giant. He is generous and sincere, eager to know others and also to be known. He is a community builder.
When Jamie finished high school, he saw his peers moving on with their lives – getting jobs, having girlfriends, moving into their own places. In Jamie’s words, “I didn’t want to live with my parents forever. I love them and everything but I want to learn how to be independent. Every one of my friends is doing it. I’m probably not going to be just like them but I want to be as close as I can to them.”
In a recent CBC radio interview, Jamie was asked what was the highlight of his starring role in the L’Arche Cape Breton Christmas production of “The Three Kings”. While he admitted to being excited about acting, having a vocal solo, and being on stage, he noted that what he appreciated most about his theatrical debut was “just doing it together.” In front of the audience on the day of the show, when talking about his first year at L’Arche, Jamie talked excitedly about meeting “German people, Indian people Kenyan people….but most importantly just a lot of friendly people.”
Jamie’s first L’Arche birthday celebration was “80’s Karaoke” at Corinthian House. He relaxed on the couch, surrounded by an eclectic group of new friends, while the music played in the background and the words to Eye of The Tiger and other classics were projected on the living room wall. We all struggled through a few verses of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, by Tears for Fears, and then Jamie requested “Who Made Who” by ACDC. Without moving from the couch, Jamie belted out the most authentic, unrestrained, ear-splitting version of that rock classic that any of us had ever heard! There was not a trace of self-consciousness, nor any need to be in the spotlight. There was just a guy singing a song he loved, surrounded by people with whom he felt completely at ease.
After almost 20 years in L’Arche, I still have so much to learn. And this twenty-something year old, hard-rock loving, Sydney Mines man is one of my teachers. Jamie knows he doesn’t have all the answers. He knows he needs help and he accepts it with grace. He celebrates the good in others and in himself, and in so doing he creates goodness in the community. Jamie stands on humble ground.