When the diagnosis of dementia hits you up close and personal, as it has me with the decline of my spouse Marlene due to the disease, it sends you on a grief journey that clouds your perspective on life. The questions come fast and furious.
In the northern hemisphere, Advent comes to us in the darkest time of the year. Christmas is advertised and celebrated as the happiest time of the year, and for some it is just that. But for others, Christmas is indeed the darkest time, where loneliness seems lonelier, when separation feels more separate, and despair calls our name.
Hospitality makes my heart sing. Preparing a comfortable space, serving up new dishes, conversing with guests and attending to their individual needs: these are among my greatest joys.
My husband and I decided to live in the United States this fall. Flexible work made it possible to move temporarily to a small town near where we grew up, with a primary goal of providing support to my 85-year-old mother. Belatedly, we realized that meant we would be immersed in a presidential election, a prospect that was, by turns, intriguing or unsettling.
As our family sat around the Thanksgiving dinner table discussing our plans for Christmas and the virtue of giving gifts, someone piped up and said: “We already have too much stuff. Please don’t buy us anything for Christmas this year. We don’t need anything!”
Gordon Eby captured the moment when families in Berlin, Ont., said goodbye to local troops at the start of the First World War in 1914. In 1916, concerned that its Germanic name was bad for business, the city would say ‘goodbye’ to Berlin and ‘hello’ to Kitchener. The Berlin Mennonite Church faced a dilemma. Should it adopt the name of the ‘warlord’ war hero Lord Kitchener?
A school teacher asked her class of first graders, “What colour are apples?”
Some children said “red!”
Others exclaimed “green!”
A few said “yellow.”
Then one little boy raised his hand and said, “Apples are white.”
English is still the dominant language in Mennonite Church Canada as a whole, but worship also happens every Sunday in Cantonese, Lao, Tigrinya, Oromo and 14 other languages. Unfortunately, links between Euro-Canadian Mennonites and Mennonites of other backgrounds remain limited.
Since Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its final report in 2015, denominations and congregations across the country have wrestled with how to respond in authentic and appropriate ways. One such response was an ecumenical conference held recently at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon.
From 2011 to 2013, I was a resident of the Menno Simons Centre, a not-for-profit student residence located near the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. At Menno, I found a tight-knit community, a sense of home in a new city and inspiring Christian friendships. I also found my wife Cara.