On this Father’s Day, I am grateful to my Dad formany things including……
I will be the first to admit there have been ups and downs in my relationship with my Dad. He and Icertainly did not always see eye to eye and he set a high standard for his children that I had to work incredibly hard to try to meet. He was honest to a faultand that wasn’t always easy to hear.Dad was spare in his praise and did not show emotion easily until later in his life.
But now as I provide support and care to Dad as he struggles with ever-advancing dementia I can put those things in perspective and see how some of them were probably even good for me. I can also look back with great appreciation and gratitude for the many gifts Dad gave me and the important lessons I learned from him.
Since today is Victoria Day I thought I would post about some connections I have with the name of the monarch Queen Victoria whose birthday is being honoured today.
I once went to a church service at Westminster Abbey in London. Queen Victoria’s coronation service was held there in 1838.
Last October when we visited British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria which is named for the Queen, my brother and his partner who make their home in Victoria took us for a walk along the ocean.
During the six years I lived in Hong Kong I took this tram up to the top of Victoria Peak countless times. You could walk all around the mountain named after the Queen and have marvellous views of the city of Hong Kong.
Keeping birthday books was made popular by Queen Victoria. I have my grandmother’s and my great aunt’s birthday books both more than a century old.
A wonderful young woman named Victoria was our walking tour guide in the city of Kyiv during our trip to Ukraine. Funny, smart, knowledgable and well-spoken I often think now about Victoria and hope she is okay.
In 2013 we visited Victoria Beach named for the Queen. Victoria Beach is 100 kilometres or so north of Winnipeg. We walked through the interesting community.
When we lived in Hong Kong we took many our guests down to Victoria Harbour to see the light show there at night. Here we are on the harbour named for the queen with my sister and brother-in-law.
This beautiful 1997 wall hanging by Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuryuk is one I have talked about with many visitors to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Outside a wine store on Queen Street in Toronto while on a walking tour of the city. Queen Street was named after Queen Victoria.
Our family once attended the Regina Folk Festival. Regina is Latin for ‘queen’ and the city was named after Queen Victoria when it was founded in 1903. The Folk Festival was staged guess where………in Regina’s Victoria Park.
All three Abrahamic religions are celebrating right now. This is the first time in thirty-three years that has happened.
Christians are celebrating Easter and remembering the story of the death and resurrection of Christ.
Jews are celebrating Passover and remembering the story of the exodus of their people from slavery in Egypt when the angel of death passed over the homes of the Hebrews.
Muslims are celebrating Ramadan and remembering the story of the angel Gabriel bringing revelations to Mohammad from God that would be collected in their holy book the Quran.
For the first time in more than three decades the celebrations of Easter, Passover and Ramadan overlap.
All three religions hold as sacred the story of Abraham making a covenant with God. All three believe in prayer as a means of communicating with God. All three have public houses of worship and use water in important rituals and ceremonies. All three extol the virtues of charity and kindness. All three are monotheistic religions that believe in one Godand all three have holy books.
And yet despite all these commonalities Muslims, Jews and Christians have spent most of their historical careers in conflict or competition with each other.
Perhaps this year as we share a common time of celebration we will be led to look at all the things we have in common and come to accept one another with warmth and wisdom realizing that we have much to learn from each other that can enrich us all.
Every year during the Easter season I like to do an update on my Last Supper collection. I collect unique renditions of Leonardo Da Vinci’s classic work. I recently found this one called The First Supper.
It is painted by Susan Dorthea Whitean Australian artist in 1988. She wanted to challenge the patriarchal image of the original Last Supper so she painted thirteen women from different parts of the world. Susan has replaced Christ with an Australian Indigenous woman wearing a T-shirt with an Indigenous land rights flag. She has placed traditional Australian foods on the table and the rock you see through the window is called Uluru, a sacred site for Indigenous people in Australia that has been returned to them by the Australian government.
Last Good Friday I wrote about how Mary Jesus’ mother must have felt seeing her son die. She was warned when he was born that her child wouldn’t be easy to love, that he would repeatedly do things that would pierce her heart like a sword. And he did.
This contemporary image of Mary is by an artist named Tonya Butcher from Virginia. It shows Mary standing at the feet of Jesus as he hangs on the cross. Tonya calls this piece Stabat Mater Latin words meaning mother standing. Stabat Mater is a 13th century Latin hymn describing Mary’s sorrow watching her son die on the cross. The first stanza which inspired Tonya’s work is
“At the cross her station keeping
Stood the mournful mother weeping
Close to her son to the last.”
Tonya says she is a mother herself and tried to put herself into Mary’s place, imagining what she would be thinking and feeling if what was happening to Jesus had been happening to one of her children.
Sadly right now there are mothers all over the world who don’t have to imagine that because they are in Mary’s place- mothers of children with a terminal illness, mothers of children in countries where there is war and conflict, mothers of children who are hungry or homeless, and mothers of children who are struggling with addictions.
Those mothers are standing at their own children’s crosses and weeping.
Yesterday was a busy day. I taught a university course online in the morning, visited a book club to talk about my novel in the afternoon, and attended my writers’ group in the evening. So late last night I needed to do something fun and easy when I wrote this blog post. Although I realize I am twenty-four hours late in honouring St. Patrick’s Day here are photos of me that involve green things.
On New Year’s Day, it was a chilly -30 degrees in Winnipeg. Despite the Arctic temperatures Dave and I decided to bundle up and went for an hour-long trek in Kildonan Park.
I thought we might be alone on the trails but I was surprised how many other hardy hikers we encountered. It was hope-inducing to hear our cheery New Years’ greetings to one another ringing through the crisp cold air.
I thought it might be too cold for any birds to be out but I was wrong. We had just closed our car doors when a huge bald eagle soared right over our heads, flying so low we could clearly see its bright yellow beak.
We took detours when the incessant pounding of two different pileated woodpeckers caught our ears. We spotted both of their bright red heads but weren’t fast enough to get a photo before they flew off.
No such problem with a group of chickadees in some pines. Dave held out a peanut from his pocket and one of them hopped right over to have a snack.
We spotted some crows too, their inky silhouettes stark against the white of the snow-covered trees.
It was mighty cold in Winnipeg on New Years Day but not too cold for the Driedgers or the birds.
Seasons greetings to all my blog followers. Thanks so much for reading my posts and a special thanks to so many of you who have made comments, asked questions and responded in various ways this past year. I wish you and yours a safe holiday. May you find a measure of happiness and peace in whatever way you are able to celebrate. I am going to be taking a break from my blog till the New Year. See you in 2022.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
Those are the opening lines in one of my favourite novels, Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups.
Rebecca, the main character is a widow with four grown children who starts wondering if she is really happy. She begins to think about what her life would have been like if she had made other choices both professionally and personally. What is her purpose now?
Like Rebecca, as our life circumstances change, we often stop to reflect on what our new purpose might be or how the choices we made in life have impacted where we’ve arrived.
There are two key pieces of advice I always take away from Back When We Were Grownups when I reread it.
1. Don’t waste your time with regretsconstantly thinking about what might have been.
Rebecca puts it this way. “Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be.”
2.Live as richly and as fully as you can in the here and now. Rebecca tells this story to make that point.
When I was eight my aunt gave me a beautiful tall white candle with white lace around it in a spiral. I thought it was so elegant I saved it in my drawer to use on some momentous occasion. One day four years later I came across it in my drawer and it was all yellow and warped and the lace had crumbled. I’d never seen it burning and now I never would. Since then I light my candles any chance I get. I light them by the dozens, all over, all year. Multitudes of candles!
This Christmas in particular, when we may be feeling regretful that we can’t celebrate the season in the way we’d hoped to, or with the people we’d hoped to, it might be good to remember Rebecca’s advice to light multitudes of candles while making the very best of what life has given us right now.