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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 42

Updated: Feb 11

Wildlife wonder- Cactus

As we walk around this area, there are a lot of different cacti, such as the ones above which I photographed on a recent walk along the nearby cliffs, in Bathway. The rounded cactus in the foreground is the Prickly Pear cactus and in the background is the tall Cereus cactus. 

The name Cereus comes from the Latin for wax because they are like tall candles. They can grow to up to 15 metres and they produce large white flowers. They are edible and the inside stems can also be used as a form of soap.

The prickly pear cactus sometimes has flowers on them and I have seen a range of colours – often reds and pinks. The rounded, green ‘pads’ are edible and if you remove the spikes and peel off the green outer covering they can be eaten raw. They can also be cooked as a vegetable but with those spikes, I’m happy to just watch them grow! 


Grenadian Gift- Fresh fish

While we sit on the balcony, we often see fishing boats pass along the coastline, morning and evening on their daily commute out to sea. There are numerous fishermen who live and work on the island and fish is usually available in restaurants, along with chicken. Tuna is very popular and when we travel along the coast, we usually pass tables where fishermen are chopping up large yellowfin tuna to sell by the roadside. The above photo is of a barracuda which are also commonly sold.

Recently, Kim and I decided to try buying fish at the Grenville fish market instead of the supermarket and we bought some tuna steaks and a red snapper (pictured below). The fish market is a fairly new building tucked away near the small Grenville port and there are also groups of fishermen with cool boxes full of ice from which they sell the fish they have just caught. I am not very good at eating things that still look like the animal and so we asked for the snapper to be filleted, which they did for a small extra cost. It is a little sad to think of the fish being killed but also amazing to eat fish that was probably still swimming in the sea earlier the same day.


Reflections from the Retreat

It has been good to have Kim here for a few weeks and we have done various jobs around the house, and in particular, we have completed the ‘Soul Space’ room. We have decorated and planned the layout and it was good to have an extra pair of hands to help me to fill the various bean bag sofas and chairs. We have been putting together ideas and resources for the folder that will go into this room to guide people in reflections and ways of praying. We have also had time to enjoy visiting local tourist sites and beaches. Kim had a full body mud bath and massage at the River Sallee Sulpher Springs, as you can see from the photo above. Kim has written the following reflection on her time here.

From comfort to calling: reflections on Grenada

Magnificent ocean and sun shimmering through the clouds; the full moon; sounds of waves lapping against the shore; delicious tuna and lime juice; and sand – lots of sand.  Potholes in the roads; drivers whizzing past; small wooden houses next to brightly coloured stone dwellings; hills clothed in tropical green plants; and the sea breeze.

I could talk of all of the above and more, when reflecting on the time I’ve spent so far in Grenada.  Not to mention the fact that every other house seems to be a church or a place of worship, or a small shop or bar or roadside restaurant selling barbecue chicken and corn.

This is a colourful island of friendly, God-loving people.  Buses and cars carry Scripture verses and Christian inspirational texts and as you see them hurtling down the narrow roads, you can only hope that they are also protected by the Holy Spirit.

As the island gears up for Christmas, roadsides are being cleared, Christmas trees and snowmen are appearing in the shops, with snowflakes adorning the windows and Christmas baubles hanging from the ceiling.  I have spent only one Christmas at the beach in Brazil and must say that it’s just not the same as being in the cold with a huge turkey baking in the oven, warming the entire kitchen.

I have enjoyed helping Hilary to paint and decorate the Soul Space for the Hummingbird retreat house which she is developing.  Set amidst tropical greenery with banana and lime trees in the garden and a magnificent view towards the ocean, it is an ideal place to relax and wind down and to enjoy the slow pace of life here on the island.  I can imagine how it will serve many who are looking for creative and inspirational therapies in the future, including those who might want to explore their faith journeys in new and interesting ways.

I am reminded of the Hummingbird fable from South America: the little hummingbird who amidst a great forest fire flies back and forth from the ocean to the flames with a tiny droplet of water which he drops onto the flames. Whilst all the other animals are desperate and have lost hope, they discourage the hummingbird, asking what can it possibly achieve all on its own.  But the hummingbird is not discouraged and continues to do what it can, despite the enormity of the task ahead.

Looking at the chaos of the world in which we live, wracked by wars and conflict; growing anxiety and mental health issues; uncertainty and inflation and unstable politics: we might ask ourselves what good is my small contribution in the light of all of this?  The hummingbird tale reminds me that we all have a wonderful part to play in the story of mankind.  Perhaps we cannot see how our contribution can make a difference, and yet it does. It will.  Maybe it is through our small acts that we inspire others to do more or to live into what God has created them to be.

Rabbi Tarfon, commenting on Micah 6 8, says: “do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief, do justly now, love mercifully now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it”.

So many people turn away from the enormity of the task ahead.  So many are afraid of sitting in their own discomfort, so it is easier to walk away and do nothing or to make excuses.  Yet Jesus asks us to turn towards the things we would rather not see.  Jesus asks us to sit in the charnel grounds with the poor, the homeless, the lost and the abandoned and to be fully present to their needs. 

Jesus asks us to step up and to step out, into our calling, even if it is uncomfortable and even if it means, like it did for Hilary, moving thousands of miles away from your home and family to make a new community elsewhere.

Hummingbird Retreat House is an appropriate name for this sacred space where Hilary will continue her calling to serve those who need respite, therapy and time away.  At the same time, Hilary is continually increasing her network of local people as she makes contact in all sorts of ways, including visiting a wide variety of different churches to get a feel for the different congregations.

In the future, this house will become a place of community where many locals can use their gifts in service to those who will come to visit or stay at the Hummingbird Retreat House.  On a trip into the capital, St. George’s, we met a passionate drummer at a café who was keen to share his love for the drums and in particular to share how the drums are a gateway for linking local culture with the wider African history of Grenadians. It will be by working together with such people that Hilary will create bonds that link communities to each other in new, exciting and creative ways.  

Like the tiny hummingbird, I have played a small part in supporting Hilary to birth this important dream.  We all have a role to play.  We all have a calling.  What’s yours?


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