Do you believe in miracles? According to writer Rachel Held Evans, that question isn’t important. The important thing is whether you ACT like you believe in miracles. People who act like they believe in miracles feed the hungry, care for the sick, hold the hand of the homeless and offer hope to the addict. Sometimes while they are busy behaving as if miracles can happen they just might!
Rachel’s book Inspired looks at practical ways to interpret and apply Biblical texts. One chapter focuses on the gospel accounts of Jesus performing miracles, including the story where he walked on water. Rachel writes if we want to ‘walk on water’ in our personal lives and in our relationships with others the first thing we need to do is get out of the boat. That first step out of the boat might mean showing up for a counseling session or giving an older relative a phone call, getting some exercise, donating to a charity, taking a break from social media or offering free babysitting to new parents.
Rachel says while the New Testament records Jesus’ miracles it does not provide us with a ‘how to manual’. Jesus doesn’t give us a recipe or blueprint. We need to figure out how to act like miracle workers on our own. That got me thinking about people I know who are acting like they believe in miracles.
Christ Healing the Blind by El Greco 1570
Jesus healed a blind man. My friend Esther sorts and packs used eyeglasses for the Lions Club. The glasses are distributed worldwide to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them or wouldn’t have access to them. My cousin Steve’s volunteer work prevents diabetes patients in Nicaragua from going blind.
Jesus provided food for the crowds who came to see him. My parents Paul and Dorothy grew grain on their hobby farm for the Canadian Food Grains Bank. That grain helped feed people around the world. My pastor Kathy coordinates the Winnipeg Harvest branch that operates out of our church providing food to folks in our neighborhood who need it.
Jesus gave new life to a little girl. My sister Kaaren volunteers at a school that is trying to provide new beginnings to kids whose families face a variety of challenges. My friend Simone serves on the board of a shelter that provides new hope to the homeless.
Jesus loosened the tongue of a man who couldn’t speak. My friend Jodi has written and published a book that gives autistic kids a voice. She wants their stories and their strengths to be heard and recognized. My cousin Lynne and her husband Rod act as allies with indigenous community members as they give voice to their wisdom. They believe indigenous insights can help us understand political and social issues in new and important ways.
Rachel Held Evans
Do you believe the miracle stories in the Bible actually happened? Rachel Held Evans suggests that’s really an irrelevant question. The real question is……..Do the miracle stories in the Bible inspire you to attempt miracles?
Note: I was a devoted follower of Rachel Held Evans’ blog. After she died suddenly at the beginning of May I knew there wouldn’t be any more blog posts so I decided to read or re-read all of her books. Inspired was a great first choice.
Mending What We Can
Nuggets of Hope for the Disgruntled
Faithless? Definitely Not!
Heaven Meets Earth
Filed under Books, Religion
After seeing STRIKE at Rainbow Stage last week I was reminded of a mural that used to be on the south wall of what is now The Palomino Club on Main Street. Painted by Tom Andrich in 2006 it told the same story as the musical, its illustrations giving life to one of the most memorable events in Winnipeg history, the strike of 1919. In May of that year, some 30,000 workers walked off the job because of poor working conditions and a lack of employment opportunities for World War I veterans. Union organizers had been passionately advocating for an eight-hour workday, collective bargaining and the need for employers to pay a living wage. Mural artist Tom Andrich chose to highlight nine of the strike leaders. The woman right in front is Helen Armstrong. Nicknamed Wild Woman of the West she was a union organizer who championed the cause of working women. Born in Toronto and married to a carpenter named George she moved to Winnipeg with him in 1905 where Helen became the leader of the Women’s Labor League. Her leadership helped bring a minimum wage to Manitoba. I was glad to see that Helen was given a major role in the musical Strike and was played in a strong and brilliant fashion by Andrea Del Campo a veteran of the Winnipeg acting scene. During the Winnipeg Strike Helen organized kitchens to feed female strikers and harassed strikebreakers who were crossing the picket line. She encouraged women to boycott stores where the workers were on strike and challenged them to join the men who were on strike. She was arrested and jailed for inciting people to strike, disorderly conduct and encouraging the abuse of strikebreakers.
Winnipeg business owners organized a Citizen’s Committee of One Thousand to oppose the strikers. They blamed foreign immigrants for the strike and some were deported. The majority of the strikers, however, were British. In the Rainbow Stage production, A.J. Andrews who was the mayor of Winnipeg during the strike and one of the founders of the Citizen’s Committee of One Thousand is played in a properly villainous fashion by actor Kevin McIntyre.On June 21, 1919, war veterans organized a parade to protest the arrest of labor leaders. They were also upset at the government edict that the labor movement newspaper could no longer be published. 6,000 people gathered in front of City Hall. When a streetcar, operated by strikebreakers came by the protesters overturned it and set it on fire. In the Rainbow Stage production, a replica of the streetcar makes an impressive appearance on stage.
The federal government had sent out the Royal North West Mounted Police to help put an end to the strike. Carrying clubs and firearms the North West Police charged into the crowd after the streetcar was overturned. They began to fire their weapons.
June 21, 1919, became known as Bloody Saturday because the North West Mounties killed two strikers, wounded thirty-four and made nearly a hundred arrests. Tom Andrich’s mural on Main Street had a portrait of one of the men who died. His name was Mike Sokolowski. Although almost nothing is known of Mike Sokolowiski beyond the few often contradictory details recounted by Winnipeg newspapers reporting on his death, he is the main star in the Rainbow Stage production of Strike and is played by Cory Wojcik. After Bloody Saturday the strike organizers fearing more violence called the strike to a halt and the strikers went back to work on June 26th. I took these photos of Tom Andrich’s strike mural on September 15, 2012. I captured the artwork just in time because later that same month a wicked rain and wind storm ripped the vinyl mural from the wall and damaged it beyond repair. Thankfully in this hundredth anniversary year of the strike, there are plenty of other ways to learn about its events. Many media stories have been written about the strike, books for young people published and of course, there is still time to see the lavish retelling of the story at Rainbow Stage.
Note: Tom Andrich the artist of the Winnipeg Strike mural died last year. You can read more about him on The Murals of Winnipeg site.
The Winnipeg Strike- Fact and Fiction
Rubbing Mr. Eaton’s Foot
Celebrating Our Marriage History in a Historical Building
One of the things my Dad and I found on his bookshelf during our downsizing efforts in his apartment was this old Mennonite Hymnal that belonged to my mother. My mother was a talented pianist and I don’t think I am exaggerating to say that in her lifetime she played for literally hundreds of funerals, weddings, church services and music performances starting when she was a young girl and she would accompany her parents when they sang duets in church. The cover and spine of my Mom’s hymnal were tattered and threadbare, a testament to its frequent use. On the flyleafs of the hymnal were long lists of hymns. Mom referred to these lists while playing a succession of pieces during preludes and postludes before and after weddings, funerals and church services and during the serving of communion. Mom had an amazing musical ear and will have played most of these from memory. One of the hymns she has listed is In the Bulb There is A Flower. It was one of Mom’s very favorite hymns and we sang it at her funeral. It talks about how nature teaches us there is new life just waiting to burst forth from seeds, cocoons, and bulbs and how in our own lives there is always the opportunity to explore, to hope, to believe in new and better things to come. I used Mom’s hymnal this week as I was picking the songs for the worship service I will lead this coming Sunday morning and at the page, for In the Bulb There is a Flower I found a leaf with a beautiful pattern of veins, that Mom must have placed there to press at some point. It was a lovely reminder of my mother’s appreciation for the lessons nature has to teach us.
In the bulb, there is a flower, in the seed an apple tree
In cocoons a hidden promise, butterflies will soon be free
In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. – by Natalie Sleeth
Dad’s Treasures- Part 1
Dad’s Treasures- Part 2
God of Eve and God of Mary
Last week I attended a wine tasting fundraising event to support my daughter-in-law who is a member of the Winnipeg Singers. It was held in a lovely backyard on a beautiful evening and besides the great wines included some delicious appetizers and first-class entertainment. One of the unexpected pleasures of the evening was chatting with two women with whom I share choir connections.
The Steinbach Treble Teens participate in A Mosiac of Music at the Centennial Concert Hall in April of 1970- I’m the very furthest to the right standing and leaning on the door and Brenda is just in front of me wearing glasses
Brenda and I used to sing in the Treble Teens together when we were in high school. The Treble Teens was a choir for young women based in Steinbach. We practiced weekly with our director Shirley Penner and did many performances throughout the year. Brenda and I talked about all the positive things we had learned as members of the choir. We also caught up on our lives chatting about our careers and families. I found out that Brenda had become a grandmother to a little girl just days before I had at the beginning of April.
Our college chamber choir. I believe Lynette is second from the left in the first row. I am second from the left in the third row.
Lynette and I sang in the soprano section of a chamber choir together at what is now Canadian Mennonite University in 1972. We practiced several times a week with our director Henry Engbrecht and traveled to many different places to give performances. Lynette also sang at our wedding. During our chat, Lynette and I caught up on our lives and families. She was just about to leave for Europe and would visit a college friend we both knew in England. I found out that Lynette had also become a grandmother to a little girl within days of when I had.
Winnipeg Singers publicity photo of their fundraiser
I guess it maybe shouldn’t be strange that at a choir event I met two women I had sung in choirs with in the past. My conversations with them brought back some good memories and enriched an already lovely evening.
I Was A Treble Teen
See You At The Concert Hall
I was looking up directions to a house where I’d been invited to lunch yesterday. I wanted to cycle there. As I was searching for the best bike route online I came across the walking score for the address. I had no idea what a walking score might be.I discovered there is a website called Walk Score that allows you to search for the address of a place and it tells you how easy it would be to walk from that location to stores, schools, medical care and other amenities you might need to use on a regular basis. Here’s the walk score for the address where I was headed yesterday. My search also provided information on the ease of access to bus service and if there were safe bike routes nearby. 100 is the best score. So while the house where I had lunch is in a lovely, friendly neighborhood it is also in a car-dependent zone and not the best location if you want to walk, bike or take the bus instead of a car. Here are the scores for my address. I apparently live in a walker and bus rider’s paradise and in a very bikeable area. Since we are a single car family and my husband needs the car every day this makes our location a wise choice especially for me.
It was interesting to discover that before you buy or rent a home there is an easy way to check how accessible it is in a variety of environmentally friendly ways.
What’s your home’s walk score?
A Woonerf In My Back Lane
The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island
Riding the Bus Alone At Age 5
Filed under Travel, Winnipeg
Visiting the Lucy Maud Montgomery House in Prince Edward Island many years ago.
I was reading a CBC story about the new interpretative center opening in July at the site of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home in Prince Edward Island. Montgomery has gained international fame for her classic novel Anne of Green Gables. The new center which tells the story of Montgomery’s life has been designed to meet the needs of three different kinds of visitors- the streaker, the stroller and the scholar. I hadn’t heard of those designations before but they intrigued me. I discovered the terms had been coined by an Australian museum director named George McDonald.
My husband walks briskly through an outdoor art display in Merida Mexico.
A streaker is someone who walks briskly through a museum or art gallery or special event. They pay little attention to details, gather general impressions and may finish their visit to an exhibit without really being impacted by it at all. They are there to check the visit off their list, to say “I’ve been there” or “I’ve done that.” These kinds of visitors are also sometimes called fish because they just glide through the exhibit.
Dave and I were in stroller mode when we visited a history museum in Quebec City.
A stroller moves more slowly and pays more attention. They will probably stop at various places to learn more. They will absorb more than a streaker and pick up more details particularly about certain parts of an exhibit that catch their interest. They are there to have a good time but not necessarily to do a whole lot of learning. These kinds of visitors are also sometimes called butterflies because they flutter through a museum or art gallery or interpretive center alighting here and there to enjoy something that attracts their attention.
My husband Dave was definitely in scholar mode when we visited the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan.
A scholar is someone who is very interested in learning and reflecting. They will move slowly through an exhibition looking at almost everything and reading all of the textual material. You will see them lingering at certain points for extended periods of time. They are conscientious and diligent about having the full experience. They want to discover all the intimate details of an exhibit and ask questions. These kinds of visitors are sometimes called ants because they move very slowly and methodically and purposefully.
Posing with Russian author Pushkin at the Wax Museum in Odessa Ukraine
Learning about streakers, strollers and scholars got me thinking that those terms might describe more than just museum visitors. As we move through life are we streakers? Do we just rush through our busy days gliding mechanically from one obligation to another? Are we strollers? Do we take time to stop periodically to relish and enjoy experiences and events? Are we scholars? Are we thoughtful and purposeful? Do we read and think and reflect and question?
At the Museum of Modern Art in New York posing with Van Gogh’s Starry Night
I think at various times and in various situations, I tend to be all three kinds of people or a combination of them. I know I don’t want to just streak through life never stopping to stroll or savor, reflect and enjoy. But I also don’t want to spend so much time being the scholar that I accomplish little and never have time for fun.
Are you a streaker, a stroller or a scholar?
Visiting the MOMA
Feeling Sad About Odessa
I spent the first two official days of summer at a beautiful cottage at Brereton Lake. As I wandered in the yard where my friend has all kinds of lovely wild and cultivated flowers growing I was reminded of a verse from the Song of Songs. “Flowers appear on the earth. The season of singing has come.”
Flowers are the music of the earth. – Marty Rubin
Wild Flower Inspiration- Moose Lake
A Walk Down Selkirk in Lilac Time
Last Saturday I visited the new Russlander exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum. It tells the story of the Mennonites who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in the 1920s. I noticed so many artifacts that brought back memories of our own family’s experiences. One display case was filled with travel documents that people needed to leave Ukraine in the 1920s and travel to Canada. Each immigrant had to receive approval from a Canadian Pacific medical officer. We are fortunate to have the same kinds of documents for both of my husband’s parents who immigrated to Canada as small children. The document above is the medical certificate for my husbands’ father Cornelius Driedger’s family. Dave’s dad is the small boy on the right. Also pictured are Cornelius’ father Abram N. Driedger, his mother Margaretha Friesen Driedger and his sister Agatha. They immigrated to Canada on June 23, 1924.
My mother-in-law, Anne Enns although only two years old had her own identification card and medical certificate.Her medical certificate has two dates August 10th 1925 and October 8th 1925. In a memoir written by Mom’s uncle I read that her family’s first attempt to migrate was delayed because of the health problems of a family member. Perhaps this is why Mom’s medical certificate was stamped twice on two different dates. I know Mom’s family arrived in Quebec City on October 17th 1925 and that the ocean voyage took approximately nine days so the second stamp will have been put on the certificate just before her family got on board the ship the S.S. Minnedosa for their journey to Canada. According to Mom’s family memoir, Dr. Drury, the name of the medical officer on the earlier stamp on Mom’s certificate, was from Canada and made the rounds of various Mennonite villages in Ukraine to examine potential immigrants and stamp their certificates. I noticed that both Mom’s certificate and one I saw at the Mennonite Heritage Village were stamped by Dr. Drury. I think Mom’s photo on her medical certificate was taken from this family photo. Mom is with her parents Gertrude and Heinrich Enns, her older sister Gertrude and her brothers Peter, Johann, Diedrich and Heinrich.
The immigration documents I saw at the museum and the ones belonging to our families were a ticket to a more hopeful future for people who had lost everything during the Russian Revolution.
There were many other artifacts in the Russlander exhibit that connected with our family’s experience. I will feature them in future blog posts.
A Luxury Car- A Family Story
What’s a Break Event?
Anne Enns Driedger
Filed under Family, History
Rosa Parks by Tony Scherman
“Look at her face. See the way the artist has painted all that darkness around her but her face is in the light?” A member of my tour group at the Winnipeg Art Gallery was responding to a painting of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Another tour member added, “Knowing what a good person she was, I’d say the light is coming from within, from inside her.”
The two people having that conversation live on the streets of Winnipeg. 1Just City is an organization that runs three drop-in centers for folks as their website says, “who have no place to call home.” Earlier this week they brought a group of their regular visitors to spend an afternoon at the art gallery. It was such a pleasure showing them around. They were so genuinely excited about the art. They had so many questions! They were so ready to offer opinions and share their ideas.
The group was drawn to this sculpture on our rooftop called The Poet by sculptor Ossip Zadkine. One woman pointed out the way the face looked much like something Picasso would have made, and a man in the group asked all kinds of questions about the Russian artist who’d created it.
Woman and Polar Bear by Johnny Kakutuk
Another woman was looking at this sculpture and I asked if she would like me to tell her the legend the piece was based on. Everyone listened intently as I related the story of an elderly woman who cares for an orphaned polar bear that becomes like a son to her. Their story takes a sad turn and they are separated but eventually reunite. There were several moist eyes in the group when I was done.
Androgeny by Norval Morrisseau
We spent a long time looking at this piece by Norval Morrisseau. His life story was of great interest to my group.
The Dakota Boat by W. Frank Lynn shows indigenous people observing the arrival of a boat carrying immigrants at the Upper Fort Garry site in Winnipeg
One woman was intrigued by this artwork and asked me all about it.
I loved taking the group around the art gallery. They were delighted to be there and were genuinely curious about everything. I told them I hoped they would come back. Their visit capped off one of those dream days at my job.
In the morning I’d given a tour to a group of high school students from a rural community about a 90-minute drive from Winnipeg. Their classes were officially over but they’d showed up at school early that morning to make the trip into the city. None of them had ever been to the Winnipeg Art Gallery before. They were so excited about all of the art. Once we’d gotten started they basically guided the tour, moving from one artwork to another that piqued their interest and asking me questions about it and making comments. They were so intelligent and knowledgeable and supportive of one another. I thought, “our world is in good hands if these kinds of young people are going to lead us in the future.”
I always enjoy my job at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, but some days are a little more challenging than others. This week I had one of those days when everything was a pure joy from start to finish. It was a dream day at work.
On the Evening News
Siloam Mission at the Winnipeg Art Gallery