Meet Brandon Grimshaw, one of zillions of small vessels of grace

For 13 thousand dollars, Englishman Brandon Grimshaw bought a tiny uninhabited island in the Seychelles and moved there forever. When the Englishman Brandon Grimshaw was under forty, he quit his job as a newspaper editor and started a new life.

By this time, no human had set foot on the island for 50 years. As befits a real Robinson, Brandon found himself a companion from among the natives. His Friday name was René Lafortin. Together with Rene, Brandon began to equip his new home. While René came to the island only occasionally, Brandon lived on it for decades, never leaving. By oneself.

For 39 years, Grimshaw and Lafortin planted 16 thousand trees with their own hands and built almost 5 kilometers of paths. In 2007, Rene Lafortin died, and Brandon was left all alone on the island.

He was 81 years old. He attracted 2,000 new bird species to the island and introduced more than a hundred giant tortoises, which in the rest of the world (including the Seychelles) were already on the verge of extinction. Thanks to Grimshaw’s efforts, the once deserted island now hosts two-thirds of the Seychelles’ fauna. An abandoned piece of land has turned into a real paradise.

A few years ago, the prince of Saudi Arabia offered Brandon Grimshaw $50 million for the island, but Robinson refused. “I don’t want the island to become a favorite vacation spot for the rich. Better let it be a national park that everyone can enjoy.”

And he achieved that in 2008 the island was indeed declared a national park.

Grace is Dark Energy. God is at work in the world through millions of people you never heard of who never make the news. This is in keeping with his general modus operandi. People are always looking for God to do something spectacular and he keeps discreetly working in out of the way places among people nobody notices. It’s the ultimate covert operation. So the incarnation of the Son of God happens in Nowheresville and the whole drama of redemption unfolds before a bunch of nobodies. It happens the way a baby is conceived, the way a seed begins a new oak: hidden, small, quiet. Little, unassuming people doing something out of love.

It makes me think of Marley’s Ghost telling Scrooge that “any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness.” It’s not a matter of earning God’s love by doing something good. It’s a question of seizing opportunities God gives us to do something good in some small but real way. This guy took his shot and did his priestly work of beautifying his little piece of the Garden of God. Bravo!


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