Category Archives: Religion

A Grandmother for Jesus

Jesus’ grandmother Anne was one of the featured saints in a sermon in our church last Sunday.  The apocryphal Gospel of James has Anne’s story.  She was Mary’s mother and Jesus’ grandmother.  Artistic depictions of Anne show her playing an important role in her grandson’s life.  


Virgin and Child with St. Anne by Lucas Cranach the Elder 1520

The sermon about Anne last Sunday brought back memories of two churches dedicated to Jesus’ grandmother I’ve visited. ste. anne's church jerusalemThis is St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem.  I visited it on a school trip with my Hong Kong students. pool of bethesda jerusalemThe church is located right beside the pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. This is fitting because Anne is the saint of healing. Interestingly Anne’s church in Jerusalem is at the same spot where there used to be a shrine to the Greek god of healing Ascelepius.  

statue of mary and her mother Saint Anne Church Jerusalem

Statue of Anne and her daughter Mary in the St. Anne church in Jerusalem. Like the Old Testament character Hannah, Anne thought she wouldn’t be able to have children and was an older woman when Mary was born. 

st-anne-churchIn Quebec City I visited the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.crutches and canes st. annes

At the back of the church are all these cabinets filled with crutches and canes people have left behind. They didn’t need them anymore after visiting St. Annes’  church because St. Anne healed them. She is the saint of healing. 

da vinci the virgin and child with st. anne

The Virgin and Child with St. Anne by Leonardo da Vinci

I never knew about Ste. Anne till I visited the two churches built in her honor. It is interesting to realize there are religious writings that gives Jesus a grandmother who played an important role in his life just like many grandmothers do for all of us.
Other posts………….


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There’s More to the Shakespeare in the Ruins Site Than I Thought

Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park St. NorbertI’ve been to the former Trappist Monastery site in St. Norbert many times to watch productions of Shakespeare in the Ruins. But I didn’t know anything about the history of the place. I also didn’t know that behind the area where the theatre productions are held there is a garden and cultural centre.  One of my Winnipeg Art Gallery colleagues helps to maintain the beautiful green space around that cultural centre and she told me about it recently.

Ready for the play to begin

So when we attended the Shakespeare in the Ruins production of Romeo and Juliet on Friday night I made a point at intermission to go and find the cultural centre and its surrounding garden.  

The current St. Norbert Arts Centre was once a guest house for the Our Lady of the Prairies monastery which was established in 1892 for about forty Trappist monks fleeing from religious persecution in France. At the monastery they ran a bakery, greenhouse, sawmill and blacksmith shop.  They had bees and cows and sold meat, milk, cheese and honey. They also devoted themselves to prayer and contemplation. So it is fitting that the garden around the former guest house is called a meditation garden. It is a beautiful place to walk and think. 

The lilac bushes in the garden smelled wonderful

 I was all alone in the garden during intermission on Friday night. It was lovely and quiet. A century ago it was a quiet  garden too, because the Trappist monks only communicated by sign language.

I realized after reading more about the St. Norbert Arts Centre on their website that there is also a vegetable garden, orchard, ceremonial grounds with two sweat lodges and kitchen building which I didn’t see. I’ll have to look for those on my next visit. 

Other posts………

Dorothy’s Garden

Plants That Talked to Me

Home Grown in Newfoundland


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Filed under Religion, Theatre, Winnipeg

Let Me Count The Ways


Let Me Count The Ways……….


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”  – Luke 10:27


heart of compassion

my mother listening to people…. as if what they had to say to her was the most important thing in the world

those women in my church hugging me and quietly sharing their own stories of loss

my mother-in-law’s nurses whispering words of love to her as they tenderly provided palliative care


soul of wonder

Grandma teaching me to split open pea pods with my fingernail

watching my son hold his infant son against his heart

marveling at that black sky over our mesa just jam-packed with stars


strength of spirit

my husband’s grandmother surviving that week she hid in the cellar with her four little boys while the bandits terrorized their village

my father supporting my mother through more than a thousand dialysis treatments

my son’s music group continuing their international tour even after thieves stole all of their instruments


mind of curiosity

that Old Testament professor making us reconsider all our assumptions by assigning an essay about the geography of our faith

the inspiration of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her friends who in 1895 wrote reflections about every single woman mentioned in the Bible

the children I guide at the art gallery who are always finding things in the paintings I’ve never seen before


neighbor as self

my husband stopping to listen to the stories of the people who ask him for money on the street

my sister opening her heart and home to that refugee mother and her children

my former church congregation singing in full harmony at the end of every gathering …..ubi caritas et amour deus ibi est

Where charity and love are, God is there.


Other posts………


Wisdom from Dr. Seuss

Wisdom on a Wine Bottle


Filed under Inspiration, Religion

He’s In A Blues Band

I’ll Fly Away, Keep on the Sunny SideThe Cat Came BackRed River Valley and In the Sweet Bye and Bye were just a few of the favorites performed by the Festival Band on Sunday.  My husband Dave was part of a blues band that provided entertainment for our church’s community picnic.

500 invitations had been distributed to people in the neigborhood and so the band had a good sized audience to listen to the tunes they had been practicing for many weeks. One night they even rehearsed in our condo so I got a sneak preview.  Dave played guitar and harmonica and lent his fine bass voice to the group.  

The band wasn’t the only entertainment.  We had face painters, a bouncy castle, shuffle board, a magician, balloon animal making and a bubble blowing station.   The weather was fine. There were hot dogs, salads, icecream and of course…….. what no reputable  Mennonite church picnic can do without……. watermelon and rollkuchen.  

I’ve already heard calls for more performances by the Festival Band.  Who knows?  Dave may just be on his way to another career to add to the ever growing list of jobs he’s been exploring in his retirement. 

Other posts……….

Fun Evening in Toronto

A Little Shameless Family Promotion

Baseball Singalong


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Filed under Music, Religion

Love These Guys

I couldn’t have done it without them.  About a year ago I had the idea of building a Little Free Library for our church.  If you don’t know about the Little Free Library movement I explained it in a previous post.  

little free libraryOf course just having the idea to build a library isn’t enough.  It would never have happened without the help of Brock Klassen who designed the library,  carpenter Delmer Epp who built the library in his shop with Brock, and Ike Derksen a professional artist who did all the beautiful lettering on the library.  On Sunday I took a photo with these three great guys beside our finished little free library.

The library has been open since April. I check and restock it every week and know that many, many books have been taken and many new books donated.  I hear stories all the time about people who have been spotted using the library.  Our church reaches out to the community around our building in a myriad of ways.  Our Little Free Library compliments and augments that outreach.  I just love the three great guys who helped me make my dream of a Little Free Library a reality. 

Other posts………


A Picture Perfect Afternoon

A Miriam Toews Sighting in Costa Rica


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Filed under Religion, Winnipeg

Four Things You Can Do To Be More Empathetic

I wouldn’t have thought that exercise could make you more empathetic, but that’s one thing I learned from an excellent sermon in our church last Sunday about the Golden Rule.  You know the one, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ”  Matthew 7:12

Our pastor, suggested the Golden Rule is basically asking us to be empathetic. 

He turned to psychological research to find steps we could take to become more empathetic. dave-runs-az-baseball

  1. Exercise.  A good workout where we push ourselves and our bodies makes us physically and mentally tough and more sensitive to what pain feels like. By stepping out of the relative ease of our modern life here in North America during a hard run or strenuous bike ride we connect in a small way with the struggle faced by many people around the world who are less fortunate. 

    woman praying at the wailing wall in jerusalem

    Woman meditating at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

  2. Meditation.  In particular LKM (loving kindness meditation) that involves spending quiet time each day sending loving and compassionate thoughts to ourselves, our family and friends, our enemies, people around the world who are suffering. This kind of meditative practice sparks the neural connections in our brains linked to empathy. Our pastor suggested it sounded an awful lot like praying.


    My Dad examining patients in Haiti

  3. Volunteering.  Regularly setting aside time for charitable work strengthens the empathetic wiring of your brain as you do your part to help someone who is less fortunate than you. 

    Dave and his friend Rudy taking time to listen to each other

  4. Slow Down. Being empathetic means we make time to truly listen to others and consider their concerns.  If we are rushing around from one commitment to another we may not have space for empathy. 

    Golden_Rule_by_Norman_Rockwell public domain

    The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

    Our pastor said every major faith has a commandment something like the Golden Rule.  Following it appears to be pretty basic to understanding how we should treat each other no matter what kind of spiritual framework guides our life. I think empathy is the key to a better world.

Thanks to Phil Campbell Enns for a helpful thought-provoking sermon. 

Other posts……….

Something Simple

Saying Hello to People

Must We Live in Fear? 

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Filed under Reflections, Religion

Hopeful Friendships

We had supper last weekend with friends whose daughter teaches at Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School. They told us their daughter’s elementary class was involved in an exchange with the Al-Hijra Islamic School. Classes from both schools have been visiting one another and participating in games and activities together. In CBC interviews the Muslim and Mennonite principals said they were looking for ways to help children implement values of openness, fairness, kindness, compassion and care; values shared by both Muslim and Christian belief systems. By providing opportunities for their students to connect they hoped to prevent stereotypes from breeding and teach the children how important it is to respect those whose faith might differ from their own. The kids interviewed for the CBC story were happy to be making new friends.

street mural canada's children saskatoon

Mural of Canada’s children on Broadway in Saskatoon

I am glad educators are actively seeking opportunities to foster tolerance, respect and friendship between children of different backgrounds. It gives me hope for the future of our country and the world.

Other posts……..

A Classroom Very Different From Mine

Encouragement After the American Election

Thoughts on Hope

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Filed under Education, Religion