Chinese Spiritual Practices-Yunnan Style

Fingering beads, reading scripture, writing prayers, cleansing with water……. what is a helpful spiritual practice for you?  Traveling through the Chinese province of Yunnan years ago we learned about unique ways to pray and connect with the divine. Religiously the people of Yunnan practice a mix of Taoism, Confucianism, and Tibetan Buddhism and they introduced us to some of their spiritual practices.   

dr. hoIn the village of Baisha, Taoist Dr. Ho offered us some of his herbal tea. We were assured that slowly sipping it would cure us of any spiritual, emotional or physical ills we might have. 

good luck locks in LeijiangHundreds of locks adorned the railings around a Buddhist temple beside Black Dragon Pond in Leijiang. Each had  a person’s name, a date and a prayer engraved on it.  For a small fee a priest would etch your name and prayer on a golden lock. You fastened your lock to the fence taking the key with you. Eventually your prayer would be answered.

jade snow mountain marylouA lake near Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was a lovely turquoise colour because of the various iron deposits it contained. “Wash your hands in it” our guide urged me, “and you will live happily for a long, long time.” 

yunnan 099I had never seen a stupa until I visited the city of Zhongdiang. These are huge mounds of stones each with a Buddhist Scripture to read on one side and a personal prayer written on the other. We were offered stones to write prayers and we placed them on the stupa as well.

tibetan monks in zhongdian china

At a Tibetan Buddhist temple the monks gave us yak bead bracelets to finger as we prayed

Like most people in the world, the citizens of China’s Yunnan province have a firm belief that a power greater than themselves can influence the direction of their lives. We were privileged to have a chance to learn about some of the ways they present their desires and concerns to the divine. 

Other posts…….

A Prayer for a Golf Tournament

Sunday Morning Worship with Quakers in Costa Rica

Making Wishes in Sedona

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You Never Say Good-Bye

I have a friend who is spending this week helping to move her mother into a nursing home. She understands it’s the best thing for her mother but she told me it makes her very sad  because she knows it means her Mom is one step closer to the end of her life and she is one step closer to saying a final good-bye to her.

Last week I was visiting with another friend whose mother died several decades ago and she told me that even now never a day goes by that she doesn’t think about her Mom. The same thing would be true for me.

dorothy marie peters 1Sometimes I think of my Mom when I need someone with a listening ear or I need some affirmation.  Mom was a great listener and encourager and unabashedly proud of her children and grandchildren.  Sometimes I think of her when something exciting happens in our family I know she’d love to hear about. I have photos of her at different spots in my house and when I look at them, I think of her. Sometimes I think of Mom when a certain action of one of my siblings or my children or my grandchildren makes me say, “they must have inherited that from my Mom.” 

I think of her sometimes too when I am deciding how to act or what to say in a certain situation and I reflect on what my Mom would have done and said under similar circumstances.  

I don’t think I’ve really said a final good-bye to my mother because her positive influence and love in my life continues.

Other posts……..  

Dorothy Marie Peters

Teaching Our Children How To Die

Lord You Have Come to the Lakeshore

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Getting Into Art

We jumped right in. This sculpture was so endearing my friends and I couldn’t help ourselves from getting into the spirit of things with The Gossips by Rose Aimee Belanger at the Gallery in the Park in Altona.

The Gossips by Rose Aimee Belanger

The Gossips by Rose Aimee Belanger

Ken Loewen has some amazing pieces in the park.

Heavy Metal by Ken Loewen

Heavy Metal by Ken Loewen

Totems by Ken Loewen

Totems by Ken Loewen

This piece of Ken’s was just too inviting not to get involved in it.

Missing by Ken Loewen

Missing by Ken Loewen

What is this young man reading? Let’s peek into his book and find out.

Jack's Story Time by Gregory Johnson

Jack’s Story Time by Gregory Johnson

Besides offering an opportunity to get involved in a physical way many of the sculptures at the Altona Gallery in the Park left us bemused, thoughtful or appreciative of the artist’s amazing skill.

Points of View by Morley Myers

Points of View by Morley Myers

The Wishbone by John Aducci

The Wishbone by John Aducci


Au But by Alfred Boucher

Au But by Alfred Boucher

The Plunge by Deb Zeller

The Plunge by Deb Zeller

Brandi by Curt Brill

Brandi by Curt Brill

Bear Ciubs by Leo Mol

Bear Cubs by Leo Mol

Buck and Doe by Peter Sawatsky

Buck and Doe by Peter Sawatsky

If you’ve never been to the Gallery in the Park it is certainly worth the drive to Altona. Altona art galleryAlthough photos weren’t allowed inside the gallery there were many great works of art to appreciate there too. van gogh altonaAnd of course a trip to Altona The Sunflower Capital of Manitoba wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the giant reproduction of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.altona gallery park
Other posts……….

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

Crossing Seal River

Rose Belanger

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Earrings and Tombstones

anchor earringsI bought these anchor earrings as a souvenir during our trip to Ukraine in 2011. I noticed many of the Mennonite tombstones in Ukraine had engravings of anchors. daniel peters tombstoneThis is the tombstone of my great, great grandfather Daniel Peters which I found in the village of Nikolaipol in Ukraine. It was hard to read some of the lettering on the stone but the anchor symbol on the top was clearly visible. me with great grandfather's tombstoneEverytime I wear my anchor earrings I am reminded of my family connections to the Ukraine and our memorable visit there.

Other posts…….

The Station of Tears

The Disappeared

Remembering Yalta

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A Beautiful Woman

our heritage is our futureHer dress blowing in the wind, her one foot up ready to take the next step forward, her long hair draped across her chest- it is impossible not to be moved when you look at Benjamin Victor’s statue of a First Nations woman titled Our Heritage is Our Future. ben victor's our heritage is our futureVictor created the image to represent the women of the First Nations People of the Great Basin area of the United States. This includes the Shoshone, Paiute and Ute nations.

ben victorI’ve made two visits to Altona’s Gallery in the Park recently with two different sets of friends and both times we’ve been drawn to this sculpture donated to the park’s permanent collection by Hilda and Elmer Hildebrand.

our heritage is our future victorThe woman is dressed in clothing and shoes she no doubt made herself.  She is carrying water in her arms, carrying her child on her back and from the look on her face carrying other burdens as well.  our heritage is our future by ben victorI think the statue is representative of women throughout history strong, nurturing, hard-working and often the ones who most keenly feel the weight of oppression and sorrow. our heritage is our future by victorIt’s a depiction of a woman so beautiful her image touches you and stays with you long after you’ve left her. 

Other posts……..

History Comes Alive- The Sculptures of Singapore

Discovering Sacagawea

Getting To Know Oviloo




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The Brommtopp and Cross Dressing Mennonites

I’d never heard of a Brommtopp till I visited the Mennonite village of Neubergthal last week. Our tour guide showed us a Brommtopp and demonstrated how you rubbed its horsehair tail to create a sound by causing the calf skin stretched across the barrel to vibrate. The Brummtopp was played on New Years Eve when costumed young men went from house to house in Manitoba Mennonite villages singing Low German songs and receiving Portzeltje (New Years fritters) and alcohol shots for their performances.bromtopp I found a scholarly paper by Marcie Fehr and Pauline Greenhill that looked at the Brommtopp ritual in Mennonite communities.  Men sometimes dressed up as women for the event and their performances could be rather crude,  and irreverent providing young Mennonite men an opportunity to behave in ways that would have been inappropriate at any other time during the year.  

salvationFehr and Greenhill refer to the fact that Armin Wiebe writes about the Brommtopp in his humorous novel The Salvation of Yasch Siemens in a way that implies men dressing up as women for the Brommtopp performances may have made some community members slightly anxious. Fehr and Greenhill suggest the Brommtopp tradition might have provided an opportunity for males to participate in cross dressing in a way that was acceptable to the community.

According to Fehr and Greenhill the Brommtopp performers not only dressed up as women they also sometimes dressed in ethnic stereotypical ways as Jewish, Asian and First Nations people. Few Brommtopp participants or observers Fehr and Greenhill interviewed were willing to talk about this happening despite photographic evidence to the contrary. 

Seems there might have been more to the Brommtopp tradition than first meets the eye.  It’s an aspect of Mennonite history and culture that would be interesting to explore further. 

Other posts……

My Grandmother Played the Guitar

Musical Walk in a Bamboo Forest

Musical Instrument Museum


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Celebrating Our Marriage History in a Historical Building

529 WellingtonHe owned our home! Yesterday we celebrated our anniversary by having lunch at 529 Wellington. We had never been there before. I’d always wanted to visit though, because the restaurant is located in the former home of Mr. James Henry Ashdown a Winnipeg mayor who once owned the warehouse where our condo is located. ashdown warehouseMr. Ashdown who immigrated to Canada from England in the late 1800s sold hardware at a store on the corner of Main Street and Bannatyne and housed his stock of merchandise a block away in a warehouse that has now been converted into a hundred condo units. 

James and his wife Susan and their five children moved into a grand mansion at 529 Wellington in 1913. Their former home now houses one of the city’s landmark restaurants.  

library ashdown houseWe had a nice lunch at a table in the home’s former library. wallpaper 529 wellingtonThe wallpaper in the room intrigued me. It featured an old-fashioned illustrated alphabet. The border had words adapted from the Biblical book of Isaiah 35: 1.  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. But perhaps because the wallpaper is in a home it was chosen because the exact phrase on the wallpaper is used in a poem by Christina Rossetti called From House to Home

spinach salad 529 WellingtonI had a spinach salad roast beef sandwich 529 Wellingtonand Dave had a roast beef sandwich. blueberry bread pudding 529 wellingtonWe ended our meal by sharing a blueberry bread pudding. 

sun room ashdown houseAfter lunch I toured the other rooms in the house which offer different options for dining patio ashdown houseand the friendly maitre de showed me the patio and offered to take my photo there. 

43 anniversaryOur forty-three year marriage has a long and interesting history as does the place we chose to celebrate it yesterday.

Other posts…….

We are living in a piece of history 

A Controversial Wedding Photo 

Diamond Anniversary- A Family Affair


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