Wednesday, September 26, 2007

something fishy.

morning is the best time for walking in grenada. the sun rises so early. and i'm already awake from the light and the chickens. yes. there are lots of noisy chickens. plus, the temperature is still cool and breezy.

the walks allow for solitude. for thinking. for praying. for greeting the new day. they also allow for companionship. as i often come across someone walking the same direction.

the other day, i was returning from my morning walk and i could see quite a gathering at the grand roy bay. the fishermen, who had probably been up earlier than the chickens, were pulling in their nets. chenelle was at the junction. waiting on a bus to go to work in town. told me her mom - glenda - was down by the bay with the others. getting some jacks.

i decided to deviate slightly from the rest of my morning routine and go check out the jack gathering. i quickly saw glenda. she had already acquired a bag of small fish. she was simply watching now. she welcomed me to the bay.

a large group of people had their hands on a huge net. not just the fishermen. but an assortment of people. in synchronized motion, they would pull the nets in. progress was slow. quite a net they were dealing with. a beautiful image of everyone working together.

and there was a rainbow.

the moment needed to be captured. so i hurried up the street and grabbed my camera. by the time i returned, the rainbow was fading. but the net was on shore. and the fish had arrived. people were filling their buckets and bags with tiny little jacks. there was an abundance. enough for everyone to share. and still some left over for the fishermen to sell.

and i thought of jesus saying to let down the nets, even after peter had had a frustrating, unsuccessful fishing expedition. and i thought of jesus calling the ordinary, everyday fishermen to follow him. to be like him. and i thought of jesus feeding the five thousand with fish and bread. how there was enough for everyone.

and i prayed that i might let down my nets where i'm being called to. and i offered thanks that God calls the ordinary folks. and i prayed that there might be enough for everyone.

what's my favorite part about grenada? the moments. of beauty. of sharing. of grace.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

weekend adventures.

glenda determined that saturday was going to be washing day. she checked out the washing machine in the apartment below mine. was skeptical of it. decided i would use hers. she's got a machine set up in the little alley between her house and the next door neighbor's. she hasn't had the machine long. it washes. but doesn't rinse. rinsing is reserved for the river behind her house. she told me to grab my dirty clothes. and as they washed, we went to rinse some of her family's clothes. it was entirely refreshing to wade in the water, rinsing the clothes piece by piece. i tried to mimic glenda. the way she moved the clothes about in the river. the way she rung out the excess water. between her clothes and mine, we made several trips down to the river. as the morning went on, more people gathered in the river. most of which were both washing and rinsing. it was certainly the most fun i had ever had doing laundry. there was something quite beautiful about being there in the river with people. doing our chores side by side. as if i was a regular grenadian.

after the clothes were rinsed. we hung them out to dry on the line behind my house. i took a picture. to remember the moment.

later on that afternoon, my friend kimo (also known as keli) arranged a trip to see the waterfalls in concord, a nearby town. we went with glenda's grandchildren, azaria and aj, and their cousin stephon. the first set of falls were absolutely gorgeous. there was a deep pool at their base, perfect for jumping in and swimming. now, jumping into bodies of water isn't necessarily one of my hobbies. however, the other kids were jumping in and having a blast. so when in grenada... i took a leap and it was yet another refreshing moment. we jumped and swam and played for quite some time at these falls. there was abundant joy.

a couple kids from concord that were also playing let us know that the next waterfalls were not too far. so we ventured up an overgrown hiking trail in search of more beauty. at some point, aj said, "bamboo singing." i wasn't quite sure what he meant. so, i asked for clarification. "when the wind moves through the bamboo trees," he explained, "it sounds like music."

and as i listened for it, i realized that the bamboo was only part of this symphony. the mountains were shouting. the river was clapping. the flowers were rejoicing. and here i was. amidst creation. amidst this natural offering of praise. and i was in awe to be a part of it.

we made it to the second falls. and of course, they were breathtaking.

on the way home, stephon said this had been the best day of his life. stephon, my spiritual thirteen year old friend, was also in awe of the beauty we had been immersed in.

we got back too late for glenda and i to cook oil down, one of grenada's most common dishes. so we saved the cooking for the next day. callilou. okra. breadfruit. green bananas. seasoned chicken. carrots. coconut and saffron. all thrown together. i'm quite awful at cooking. but glenda has patience. she says i'm learning. she says i'm becomig grenadian.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

our first task.

a beautifully relevant quote sent by miss alycia capone.
too beautifully relevant to keep to myself:

Our first task in approaching
another people,
another culture,
another religion,
is to take off our shoes.

For the place we are approaching is holy.
Else we find ourselves treading
on another's dream.

More serious still, we may forget that
God was present before our arrival.

Raymond Hammer

unexpected joy.

a quiet, ordinary sunday afternoon. people hanging out, or "liming," around the corner store. others fixing their sunday afternoon meals. kids wandering around, perhaps headed for a swim in the sea. suddenly, the sound of a steel band takes us by surprise. a traveling steel band, one of the best of grenada i am told, has showed up at the junction in grand roy. they play on the back of a truck. and bring a host of others along with them. the street has been transformed into a party. music. dancing. the scene makes me laugh out loud.

and i get the feeling this is how life is going to be. the most beautiful moments unplanned and unexpected.

part of me wants a plan. wants clear expectations. wants a list of objectives to accomplish. but part of me is realizing the freedom in letting go. the joy in being open to whatever may come.

i kept thinking there must be some purpose to me being sent to grenada. of all places in the world i could have ended up. and i still think there is a reason. i just think it may be beyond a job description. beyond what i could have anticipated. beyond what i could have planned.

so i pray for an open spirit. to God's purpose in all of this. God. who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

and i ask for open ears. to listen to God. to people. to the sound of steel band music coming up the road. or whatever other surprises are on their way.

Monday, September 3, 2007

when in grenada...

"abby going barefoot. abby one of us now." - glenda

when i created this blog, i more or less meant the title figuratively. "going barefoot" simply meant recognizing an inherent holiness on all ground. in and among all people.

little did i know that in grand roy, my new community, a lot of people literally walk around barefoot. folks hang on on the side of the street. they cross the road to chat with neighbors. shoes aren't always necessary.

so when i showed up outside one day with no shoes on, my neighbor glenda determined that i too was grenadian. i took that as quite a compliment. and the phrase "going barefoot" took on a new depth of meaning.

glenda and her family have really taken me in. they live in a little house across the street: glenda her four daughters, and at least five grandchildren. people are perpetually coming and going. it took me a while to figure out who really lived there. they let me sit with them outside. they invite me in to sit with them inside. glenda has generously prepared grenadian food for me. she's taught me how to make passion fruit juice. how to cook green bananas. she's determined that i will return to north carolina knowing how to cook and live grenadian.

the other day, a few of us were chatting outside glenda's house. glenda was chillin' on a pile of rocks in the yard. someone asked if i'd like a chair to sit down in. oh no. i'll just sit down here on the rocks too.

lisia, one of glenda's daughters commented: "when in rome, do as the romans do."

then we established that a new phrase was fitting: "when in grenada, do as the grenadians do."

i've got along way to go before i'm fully grenadian. but i'm learning a little bit more everyday.

today was the first day of school for most students. people were busy gathering books, trying on uniforms, braiding hair.

and today was my first day at grencoda. it was a laid back day of introductions, questions, and staff meetings. and amidst the discussions, i sensed that this staff truly cared for their communities, and truly strove to honor the people within them.

hopefully soon i'll get started working with students afterschool at grand roy government school. and eventually teaching adult computer classes here at grencoda. it may be a little while before things get rolling. but i must be patient. grenadians are all about not being in a hurry. and when in grenada... well you know.