Home Safe and Sound?

 My younger son is a professional musician.  He is on the road a lot! He travels in a van all over the United States and Canada pursuing his career.  And I worry.  I think about the dangerous things that could happen as his band travels in all kinds of weather from one performance to another. When I know he’s due to arrive back home in Winnipeg I’ll send him a text Home safe and sound?  I breathe a sigh of relief when he responds with a yes.

 My older son travels the Saskatchewan highways to work each day.  He is a high school teacher in a small community about a forty- minute drive from his home in Saskatoon. He makes that journey five days a week in all kinds of weather. And I worry. He and his family also do lots of traveling.  When I hear they have arrived safely back in Saskatoon after a journey I am always so relieved. 

I remember coming home from my high school graduation celebration in the wee hours of the morning.  Our graduation class had driven to Winnipeg for a river cruise. I was surprised to find my mother had been awake all night cleaning her kitchen cupboards.  “I couldn’t sleep,” she said, “till I knew you were home safely.”

One Easter Sunday my young sons and I went out to Winkler to visit my grandparents.  It was very foggy when we headed home and Grandma was worried.  Our phone was ringing when I walked into our house. It was my grandfather.  “Good,” he said when he heard my voice.  “Now that you are home safely Grandma can stop praying and go to bed.”

Worry for your children’s safety spans generations.

Newspaper columnist Michele Landsburg once wrote….“it is at the very moment we give birth, that we first begin to truly understand and fear death.”  

I think the reason so many people have been so deeply affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy is because all parents and grandparents understand exactly the kind of fear Michele Landsberg is talking about. It breaks our hearts to know that for sixteen sets of parents and grandparents those fears have been realized.

humboldt broncos 

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Filed under Parenting, Sports

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

Hildegard’s- A New Winnipeg Coffee Shop Named For a Saint

Saturday we tried a new Winnipeg coffee shop and bakery that just opened!  It is named after Hildegard of Bingen a German composer, poet, writer, mystic and abbess who lived from 1098 to 1179 and was canonized as a saint in 2012. In some of her writings Hildegard extolled the benefits of a grain called spelt.  Hildegard’s Bakery specializes in spelt goods.  

Hildegard’s is on the corner of Portage and Maryland and is housed in an old building with huge windows that let in tons of light. There are plants everywhere.  I was intrigued by a cool living art piece on the wall. 

The Hildegard’s website says their baked goods are handcrafted and healthy and made from local products.   We chose the delicious lemon saskatoon scone and the apple muffin to go with our coffee.  

Saturday was opening day at the bakery and it was busy!  We know we will be going back.  Maybe we’ll see you there. 

Other posts……….

Gunn’s Bakery

Meet You At the Folio

Different Daily Bread

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Filed under Food, Winnipeg

Louis Riel’s Three Coffins

Last week the education staff from the Winnipeg Art Gallery had an opportunity to visit the St. Boniface Museum.  Our animated guide Bailey led us on an interesting and informative stroll through the galleries.  louis riel st. boniface musuemAfter introducing us to Manitoba’s founder Louis Riel she showed us Louis Riel’s coffin. If you’re like me the first thing you’re thinking is, “Why is his coffin here? Wasn’t he buried in it?”

louis riel's coffinTurns out Louis had three coffins.  Coffin number one is this pine box.  It was how his body was transported back to Winnipeg from Regina where he died by the hangman’s noose. Coffin number two was made of metal and had a window so mourners could view him as they came to pay their respects during the two days Louis Riel lay in state at his mother’s home.  The third coffin was made of rosewood and it is the coffin in which he is buried on the grounds of the St. Boniface Cathedral. 
riel's coffinThe pine coffin was kept in the Riel family home and filled with papers and photographs about his life. Later the family gave it to the St. Boniface Historical Society and it was on display in the basement of the St. Boniface Cathedral. When the cathedral burned in 1968 the coffin was charred but saved intact which is why visitors to the St. Boniface museum are able to still see it today. 

louis riel at grey nun's museum

Louis Riel statue on the grounds of the St. Boniface Museum

Other posts……….

A Graphic Louis Riel

Manitoba is Metis

A Controversial Statue

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Filed under History, Winnipeg

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

Dysfunctional But Endearing

I’d heard very different reports about the play The Humans at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre before I went to see it last Saturday. One person told me it was depressing and I certainly wouldn’t leave the theater feeling upbeat. Another person wondered whether it had really been worth the price of admission. They said the actors were hard to hear. Another said it had to be a good play because it won four Tony awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. 

It’s a sad play, no doubt about that.   As a family gathers for Thanksgiving in the New York apartment of their youngest daughter Brigid and her new boyfriend Richard, we find out Brigid works as a bartender because her hopes of becoming a music composer have been dashed. Her boyfriend struggles with depression.  Brigid’s Dad Erik has just lost his job as a janitor. Deidre, Brigid’s mother has a dead end job and is trying to lose weight for health reasons. Brigid’s older sister Amie, a lawyer, recently broke up with her long time lover and suffers from colitis.   Finally there is Grandma who is in a wheel chair and in the throes of full blown dementia.  Not a very upbeat cast ensemble to be sure but……………as the play progresses you realize despite their many problems these family members care about one another, they love each other, they have traditions they hold dear and they help each other out.  

As I’d been told, sometimes it was hard to hear all the actors’ words.  Of course we don’t understand everything Grandma says because she has dementia and rants and raves often in an unintelligble way. Deidre frequently spouts critical asides, saying things under her breath and we don’t need to know exactly what she is saying just that she has an alternate opinion. I admit sometimes the talking was fast and furious and later reading some reviews I realized there were details I had missed.  But…………. I still think the play was thought provoking and well worth the price of admission. 

And…….. I think I know why the play won so many awards.  It encapsulates in one family dinner all the realities that many Americans are struggling with.  All the main characters are challenged at work, with their health, with their financial situations and as the play progresses we learn the 9/11 tragedy still haunts the family pscyhe. 

I enjoyed The Humans more than I thought I would given what I was told about it ahead of time.  As we walked home I said the family in the play had  been dysfunctional but still endearing.  My husband disagreed.  “Think a bit MaryLou, they weren’t really dysfunctional.”  And my husband was right. In many ways this family was functioning as a family should, supporting, caring and interacting despite having all kinds of challenges and problems and differences, just like most families do.

Other posts……….

Winnipeg’s Palace Theater

Stealing The Play’s A Thing

A Play to Think About

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Filed under Theatre

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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Filed under Religion