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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 40

Wildlife Wonder- Orange-winged Parrot

A while ago I was driving early in the morning, about 6am, and I saw about 4 or 5 of these beautiful birds. I heard them before I saw them because they were screeching at a high pitch to each other, as they took off from a clump of trees as they flew off together.

These birds are about 30 cm in length and are originally from South America. They usually roost together in trees, particularly palm trees and they are most active at dawn and dusk when they look for food such as fruit, berries and nuts. They lay 3 or 4 white eggs at a time and they can live to over thirty years old.

There are other species of parrots that are more talkative and easier to train than these and so thankfully this species are captured less often for pets. Having seen a few parrots in cages here, it was lovely to see some enjoying their freedom.

Grenadian Gift – Fort George

Fort George stands boldly on the hill that looks down on St Georges. As you can see from the photo above, they are doing some construction work on it but it is still an impressive building. It is a bit of a climb up to it and it is located next to the general hospital. However, it is worth the short climb because there are some impressive cast iron cannons that are about 200 years old and an amazing view of the Carenage.

The first fort on this site was built in the 1600s by the French and was called Fort Royal. The current fort was built by the English in the early 1700s. It was named Fort George after George III when England formally gained Grenada in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. The most famous association that the fort has, from recent history, is that it is the place where Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and some of his cabinet members were killed by firing squad in 1983. This was during the Grenadian Revolution and the US Invasion (see Week 36 blog). It was the location of a happier event recently when a large firework display was launched from here to mark the beginning of the 50th year anniversary of independence. It is also the location of the Grenada Police Force headquarters which must be one of the most impressive police stations in the world!

Reflections from the Retreat

I don’t know about you, but I often remember my dreams and sometimes I have such vivid dreams that I can still remember them years later, even from when I was a teenager. At different times in my life, I have kept a dream diary and I have enjoyed reflecting on particular dreams to try and understand why I might have dreamt certain things and if they have any significance. As a teenager, analysing dreams was the beginning of my spiritual journey and I know that over the years, this has been one of the many ways that I have felt God speaking to me.

Last week I woke after such a vivid dream that I had to draw the various images to help me remember the different sections. There were seven clear parts to it and since then I have been pondering on the significance of these. It reminds me of when I trained in art therapy and images are best interpreted by the person who has drawn the image, as to what it means to them. For example, one of the images I dreamt about was of a mongoose and a hedgehog, and for me they represent Grenada and the UK. Interestingly the dream tied in with a Scripture reading that I had prepared to share at an online meeting and also with a quote that I read that day from Virginia Wolf in her book, A Room of One’s Own – ‘Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.’

Another synchronicity around this is that my current guest, Kim (in the photo below) is particularly interested in dreams and so we were able to reflect on it together and to talk about other dreams we have both had. I met Kim through Contemplative Fire and she has been keeping a dream diary for over ten years. I have found that when I have kept a dream diary I am able to see themes that keep recurring. I have read a few books on dreams and one suggestion is that it is useful to think more about the emotions in a dream rather than the content. You can then possibly relate that emotion to current life which has been helpful for me to recognise thoughts or feelings, beyond my current awareness, that come up in dreams. After Hosten died, I 'met' with him in a few significant dreams that felt so real. We were able to have conversations together to say goodbye and he reassured me that he was doing fine and enjoying his new life, which really helped me in my grief.

A related topic that Kim and I have in common is an interest in using cards, therapeutically and spiritually and there are a number of different cards now produced within the Christian tradition such as the Jesus Deck, the Ruach cards and Heart to Heart cards. I am particularly interested in using these because, like art therapy and dreams, images on cards can be very powerful in helping people recognise things that are out of their awareness or can help bring clarity to a situation.

Kim and I had a sense that we had a lot in common even though we only know each other from online meetings and so it has been good to meet in person. Her first day was an interesting introduction to life here because we had storms and no power for most of the day. We ended up sitting in candlelight waiting for the electricity company to fix the electricity pole near my house but it gave us a great opportunity to get to know each other. We have a lot in common such as both of our parents grew up in Liverpool. Her family originally came from the East End of London and her great-grandparents married in Christchurch Spitalfields where Hosten worked for many years and where we used to worship. We also have a common spiritual path such as training as lay pioneers with the Church Missionary Society, spiritual direction training, chaplaincy work and an interest in the Celtic and contemplative traditions. So we have enjoyed some interesting conversations as well as starting on some more decorating.

The work on the house has shifted up a gear with the electrician fitting ceiling fans and new lights in all the guest areas, the builders installing the bathroom fixtures and new internal doors and Kim and I are decorating. We are focusing on the ‘Soul Space’ room which I am hoping that we can finish in the 3 weeks that Kim is here. This will be a reflective space for prayer and stillness with comfy beanbag furniture and decorated with things to facilitate a spiritual space. We are also developing a folder of ideas for those who may want some guidance as to how to use this room.

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