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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 21

Wildlife wonder- Cattle Egret

I love the fact that these birds are actually named after their close relationship with cows! Whenever you pass a cow in Grenada, you are likely to see one of these birds nearby. It’s a lovely mutual arrangement with the cattle egrets eating the insects off the cows and, in turn, the cows benefit from this removal of flies, spiders and other unwanted pests.

There are other egrets, called snowy egrets and little egrets, which are completely white whereas these egrets have some light brown feathers, usually on their chest, back and crown of their heads. The other types of egrets are usually found near rivers and ponds where they catch fish, frogs and a wider menu than the cattle egrets, who are quite happy with their cows. It’s almost like the cow has a pet bird which follows them around – or perhaps it is the other way around!

Grenadian gifts – Annandale Waterfall

There are about 18 waterfalls in Grenada and this is the most touristy and easy to reach. After walking through a small gift shop and saying hello to the parrot at the top of the footpath, you walk down through a beautifully maintained garden area and pass the restaurant to reach the falls.

There are often local divers who jump for donations from the top into the pool and visitors are welcome to swim under the falls and enjoy the cool pool. If you don’t fancy a swim, you can walk down the concrete steps to stand under the falls and just put your hand under the water, to get a full sense of the force of the falls. It is a refreshing place to enjoy and the restaurant and bar has a wide selection of food and drink, if you want to stay all day.

Reflections from the retreat

Two questions I get asked from people in the UK are, ‘what do I do all day?’ and ‘when will you be open for guests?’ So I thought I’d share my responses to these.

I usually wake any time between 5-7am and then I have a morning routine of meditation, prayer, Pilates and reflective reading which helps to ground me for the day. I keep a ‘work day’ routine of doing things round the house or online work and in the evening I enjoy being able to watch British TV via a VPN or ‘virtual private network’. This is a real gift as, for a small fee, it means that it can enjoy various programmes that makes me feel connected with UK life. I do a lot of journaling and reflecting on life here and particularly on my ‘Silent Monday’ when I write this blog and discipline myself to keep practicing art each week, regardless of how good the final result is. I try and swim and go for a walk each week which is sometimes with the local walking group or the island Hash.

I am doing various pieces of online work which feels a familiar continuation of my former life. I supervise a few therapists and occasionally have therapy clients and once a month I teach on Spirituality and mental health as part of the education programme at my previous mental health trust. I am preparing teaching for a module on a Masters counselling course and once a year I give a lecture on spirituality and therapy on a few Clinical psychology courses. I’ve just finished supervising a research project for a psychology trainee who has been doing an interesting study on spirituality and wellbeing in relation to the use of ayahuasca. Due to my interest in spirituality and psychology and developing a related therapy model, Holistic CBT, I find that I have various meetings with others in this field and it is exciting to see how things are developing. One area which is growing is the awareness of more spiritual care in the NHS and I am a trustee of a charity, Wholecare, which is developing this and in particular, establishing chaplains in GP surgeries.

Along with my online work, there is life here – gradually cataloguing books, supervising the builders, meeting people and joining in with local events and I am always learning and experiencing new things. Recently I was having coffee with a neighbour and I was aware of her windows and floor shake. She then got a notification on her phone to say that there had been an earthquake in Trinidad and it had been felt here- another new experience!

Each Sunday I visit different churches – going at least two or three times to any one church in order to get to know people a little before I move on to the next. This has helped me to get to meet more people in the area and also to join in with events such as a church fair and the church cruise, which I mentioned in a previous blog.

In response to the second question, about being ready for guests, I have had to work at letting go of other peoples, and my own, expectations of when this place will be ready. There is gradual progress each week, and I have decided to ‘Trust the slow work of God’ (see below). If I had to guess I would say this house and I would be ready in a few years. However, I recognise that God is doing something in me and so, as I work on the building, God is working in me. I trust that I will be ready to welcome guests when the house is ready. I sometimes think of Noah building the ark and the years it must have taken him, and I wonder if he had any idea what was coming. I sense that I don’t really know what is ahead but I just have to keep preparing the space for whoever will come in the future. Perhaps I’m just preparing the foundation for others to build. I just take one day at a time and trust the process. So I will close with some words from a French writer who had a fascinating life of seeking to integrate his scientific and spiritual life as a priest and palaeontologist:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—

and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;

your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,

let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)

will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit

gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing

that his hand is leading you,

and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself

in suspense and incomplete. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

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