Category Archives: Religion

A Curling Champion Again

The only sport in which I have ever won a trophy is in curling.  In grade ten I curled in an extra-curricular school league with three guys who were all excellent curlers.  I played lead and we walked away with the championship at the end of the year. So I always feel good about stepping back out onto the curling ice.  It is one sport where I kind of know what I am doing.  

bethel curling crewLast Sunday our church had a curling match at the Granite Curling Club with ten teams participating.  I was paired up with three guys again and we managed to win our game by just one point.  I made some pretty good shots! In a spirit of cooperation and sportsmanship both teams posed for a photo together at the end of our game. It was fun to be out on the curling ice again and it brought back good memories of my highschool curling days. 

Other posts……………

I Did The Limbo on the Golf Course

A New Sport for Dave


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Common Threads- Aboriginal Spirituality

 We are visiting Ancient Echoes a museum and interpretive centre in Herschel Saskatchewan where you can learn about the life of the Plains Indians.Our guides Dave and Sue Neufeld take us for a long hike and we stop to learn about different stone formations that were important in the cultural and religious life of the aboriginal people who erected their tipis around Herschel in the 1700s and 1800s. This arrangement of stones was for a vision quest and Dave decides to try it out. He says it is very peaceful and surprisingly warm lying spread- eagled on the ground even though the day is freezing cold. During a vision quest a person spends a period of time out alone in nature fasting and praying and waiting for a vision that will give their life purpose and direction. Our guide Dave Neufeld points out the correlation with Biblical stories where prophets had visions that provided direction not only for their lives but for the lives of the people of Israel. There are also many Biblical characters who fasted and prayed before making major decisions.Dave Neufeld says it is too bad that when the Christian missionaries had initial contact with aboriginal people they didn’t first search for the similarities between native spiritual practices and Christianity rather than focusing their attention on the differences. It might have saved a great deal of heartache. While Dave is lying in the vision quest space Dave Neufeld gets out a drum he has made and drums and sings a beautiful song in his strong voice. 

Chorus: We are all one people

We all come from one Creator way on high

We are all one nation under one great sky

You and I 

We are all one people

We are all one nation

We are all one color in her eye. 

We are all one color if we try. 

Other posts………..

Common Threads- The Bahai

Common Threads- A Buddhist Monk



Filed under Herschel, Religion

Artist’s Prayer

My writer’s group has been working our way through Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.  In the chapter we discussed on Thursday Julia had included an Artist’s Prayer and suggested we pray it each day.  Julia’s prayer didn’t really resonate with me and since she also encouraged us to write our own prayers, I did. 

Spirit of life and love

I see evidence of your creativity all around me

I know you have blessed me with a creative spirit too

I want to discover and acknowledge that creative spirit

Give me the courage to explore my creativity and the wisdom to channel it

Make me open to new ideas and new ways of thinking

Help me move forward

Secure in my wholeness 

Trusting my inner spirit

Confident about what I can become  

Anticipating what I will create

And bold about sharing my creations

Help me encourage creativity in others

By being someone who nurtures and affirms

I need to remember your spirit is with me always

And that I am loved and I am worthy of love

May my creativity shine and be life-giving

-MaryLou Driedger

Julia’s book The Artist’s Way is helping me realize how my creative life and my spiritual life are intertwined.  

silver letter holder from grandma schmidt

Silver ink well I inherited from my maternal grandmother Annie Jantz Schmidt. Grandma received it as a Christmas gift from her sister Tilly in 1911. My grandmother expressed her creativity in many ways. She had beautiful penmanship, hooked wool rugs, designed rag rugs, did oil paintings and sang duets in church with her husband. I also have a beautiful lace tablecloth she made. 

Other posts……..

A Prayer for a Golf Tournament

A Prayer for the New Year

A Journalist’s Prayer





Filed under Art, Religion

Common Threads- Buddhism

monk chatI am in Chiang Mai, Thailand having a chat with a twenty-two year old Buddhist monk named Puttatammo. He tells me he and his fellow monks spend two hours meditating and praying every morning and every evening.  Three more hours of Puttatammo’s a day is devoted to studying the teachings of Buddha. My own time spent meditating, praying and studying the Bible pales in comparison.  I could learn from Puttatammo’s example.  

buddhist monk in chiang mai thailandPuttatammo tells me Buddhist monks practice moderation in all things. They eat only two simple meals a day and avoid drugs and alcohol or anything else that might interfere with their clarity of mind.  Two simple meals a day would be a pretty healthy thing for me to consider too. Monks must not kill or harm living things and must never lie, steal or engage in hateful speech or irresponsible sexual behavior.  Great guidance for good living and suspiciously like the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament.

There were definitely things of value in this Buddhist monk’s approach to life and faith that might enrich my own life and faith. There were definitely things his Buddhist faith and my own Mennonite faith had in common.

 Other posts………

Spiritual Practices – Yunnan Style

Faithless?  Definitely Not

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Common Threads- The Bahá’í

chicago's bahai templeWe visited a friend in Chicago.  She took us to a Bahá’í  Temple near her home. Although our friend is a Christian church member I could see why she would appreciate the beautiful Bahá’í sanctuary. What a peaceful lovely place to meditate and pray.

With our friend’s daughter outside the temple

A man was leading tours of the temple and he gave us a brochure outlining the goals of the Bahá’í ……. to help eliminate prejudice in the world, to achieve equality between men and women, to harmonize science and religion, to bring about world peace, to find spiritual solutions to economic problems and to establish universal education. Those sounded like worthy and important ideals to me and many were outcomes my own church would endorse.

welcome at bahai temple chicagoI liked the Bahá’í  desire to find common threads with other faiths and the way they believe there is value in all religions. I liked the fact that one Bahá’í  temple on each continent suffices.  Money isn’t wasted on multiple church buildings, one in each community. I liked the idea that people met in small groups in homes. That must make it easy to build relationships.

There were definitely things of value in the Bahá’í  faith that could enrich my own faith practice.  There were definitely things the Bahá’í  faith and my own Mennonite faith had in common.

*I am going to blog regularly this month about learning from other faith traditions in order to prepare for a talk I’m giving in May. 

Other posts……….

A Pregnant Mary

A Chapel of Bones

No More Churches

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Choose Kindness

On Good Friday Dave and I watched the movie Wonder. I had read the book and so I knew the plot, but the film still engaged me totally and had me weeping. Although there are some credible critiques of the film, particularly this one in The Atlantic I thought the message of the movie and the excellent performances from its main actors Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, far outweighed the fact that it probably didn’t paint a totally realistic picture of a family and a school community impacted by a fifth grade boy named August who has a severe facial disfigurement. 

teacher in the movie wonderAugust’s home room teacher Mr. Brown puts precepts on his chalkboard for his students to discuss and consider.  The precept that grounds the story of Wonder is from Wayne Dyer, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” 

This is something August’s schoolmates, their families, August’s own sister and August himself must struggle with as they deal with their tendencies to react in less than kind ways. 

Choose-Kind-Facebook-Share-Posts-1200x630pxI found out the movie Wonder has sparked a Choose Kindness campaign.  School classes or individuals are encouraged to have a Choose Kindness jar.  Each time they do something kind a marble, or coin, or some other marker goes inside till the jar is full.  Kids have been coming up with their own precepts that encourage kindness, writing stories about kindness, designing kindness T-shirts and doing all kinds of projects that inspire kindness. 

The movie made me think about my own behavior.  Sometimes when I write or speak I let my belief that I am right get in the way of being kind.  I need to be more conscious of that. 

Wonder was really the perfect movie for a Good Friday, because its story reminds us to be as compassionate and kind as Jesus was to the people hanging on either side of him on the cross, to the people who killed him, to his mother who was grieving and to the many marginalized people he encountered during his time on earth. 

Other posts…….

Acts of Love and Kindness

A Different Kind of Snow Angel

Four Things You Can Do To Be More Empathetic

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No More Churches!

The main cathedral in Evora

“NO MORE CHURCHES!”  My husband Dave expressed his opinion fairly strongly. After we took a tour of Evora, Portugal I had to promise my husband Dave we wouldn’t visit any more churches. He is so tired of them.  I am getting tired of them too.

Dave and our guide outside St. Francis Cathedral in Evora

 I felt sick after we visited the church of St. Francis which had just undergone a MASSIVE renovation that must have cost tens of millions of dollars.  

The newly restored nave showing the baptism of Jesus in the Church of St. Francis

Everything is gilded with gold and made of marble. Artists, engineers, historians and religious experts from all over the world were brought to Evora to help with the restoration. The church is a UNESCO heritage site and as such perhaps needs to be preserved, but I kept thinking about how the money used for the restoration might have been used to help struggling folks in Portugal and other places around the world.  And what would St. Francis say? He turned his back on his family’s fortune to pursue a life of poverty and service.  He is probably rolling in his grave at the extravagence displayed in the church named after him.   

The Church of our Lady of Grace in Evora 

I grew up in a town called Steinbach that has almost thirty churches.  Evora has thirty churches too.   But here’s the thing…… hardly anyone attends the Evora churches anymore.

The Igreja de Santo Antao in Evora

To deal with this dilemma  the 30 churches in Evora have come up with a very common sense solution.  Maria told us they each hold mass one day of the month.  Church goers know the schedule and go to whatever church happens to be celebrating mass that day.  Since most churches are close together in the city’s heart this works well. 

This organ built in 1542 is in the Cathedral of Évora. It still works and is played on special occasions.

The churches also share an organist. A young man adept at playing heritage musical instruments moves from church to church as well.

Walk down any street in central Evora and you are bound to see a church.

Our tour guide told us people don’t even have weddings in churches anymore.  It is cheaper and more convenient to get married elsewhere. Most of the churches in Portugal are really more like museums and serve as tourist attractions and sources of income rather than houses of worship. Almost every church in Evora charges an admission price to enter. 

At any rate we won’t be seeing any more of them.  I have made a promise to my husband. 

Other posts……….

Picking a Church Out of A Cereal Bowl

A Church and A Bar on Every Corner

A Tiny Church

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Filed under Portugal, Religion