On the last week of May, season 2 of the crime show, Pure, started airing on the Super Channel. The show’s promotional material shows women in conservative Mennonite dress wielding rifles and filling packets with cocaine. Men in overalls, plaid shirts and straw hats intimidate a victim.
Two hours into a conversation that I deeply regretted starting, the man seated next to me said, “Most people on this airplane are probably not Christian. If this flight starts to crash, I will stand up, tell everyone to repent [of their sins], accept Jesus as Lord and be saved. Otherwise, they will spend eternity in hell. Will you help me?”
“We can all have good mental health. It is about having a sense of purpose, strong relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life,” says a statement by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
On April 15, dramatic images of Paris’s burning Notre Dame Cathedral captured worldwide attention. Nearby, local citizens and tourists stood singing and praying in grief. Could it be that this majestic symbol of faith, art and culture was crumbling before our eyes?
Confession: I once shooed a visitor away from “my” bench at church. (I was saving a spot for my husband.) Fortunately, the visitor stayed and I could apologize for my thoughtless act.
One morning in the second full week of Lent, I woke up to the first sign of Easter.
Do you remember those family car trips? In the front seat, Mom and Dad are navigating, driving and planning for the next pit stop. In the back seats, kids are staking out their individual spaces, trying to stave off boredom and bickering. Everyone is looking forward to the adventure ahead. Someone calls out the question, “Are we there yet?”
Last December, unbeknownst to each other, my daughter-in-law and I bought each other bamboo toothbrushes as Christmas presents. Earlier in the year, she had heard me lament the plastic toothbrushes I was regularly contributing to the local landfill. In the larger scheme, those toothbrushes didn’t seem very important, but the long life of those plastic handles was an uncomfortable reality.
Every winter, I hear a radio advertisement for a back-to-the-woods summer children’s camp in Ontario. The ad closes with the tagline, “You send us your child, and we’ll send you back a new one.” It’s a great slogan. It points out that renewal and transformation occur when people are pulled away from their daily routines to spend time in the great outdoors.
I got my first taste of journalism at a Mennonite school. As a second-year English major, I began writing for The Weather Vane, the student newspaper at Eastern Mennonite College (now Eastern Mennonite University), in Harrisonburg, Va. The following year I accepted the challenge of becoming co-editor of the features section.
In the past few weeks, a theme has emerged in my Advent singing and Scripture reading: fear.
Fear is all around us. A recent book about a fearmongering president is on the bestseller list. Politicians and pundits stoke a public paranoia, using it to boost their own power. Credible scientific reports alert us to the troubling facts surrounding present and future climate change.
Since 1939, Mennonite women in British Columbia have been gathering each spring for a day of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. But this year, as the planned date approached, no location had been determined and no one had stepped up to coordinate the day. Was the tradition dead? One concerned woman took the initiative and secured a speaker, found a meeting place and hired a caterer.
The young couple was living far from home, juggling college studies and part-time work, in preparation for overseas missionary work. Their first child was due and then complications set in. It was a difficult birth, and the hospital bill totalled much more than their meagre budget allowed. When the time came for the new father to take mother and baby home, the hospital authorities balked.
In a recent adult Sunday school class, a member of my church spoke about her quarter-century journey of relating to Indigenous people. Twenty-five years and still learning, she admitted. Given the centuries of injustice and pain our neighbours have experienced, that doesn’t seem like such a long time.
The allegation of sexual abuse at a church camp (on page 13) reminds us of the sad reality that sexual abuse touches the church community in profound ways. The example of Christ and our peace theology compel us to recognize and to address the violence that happens in our midst.
“I enjoy the magazine very much. Will you keep printing it? I don’t have a computer,” wrote a reader in British Columbia this June. She was responding to our spring fundraising appeal. A reader in Ontario also said, “We do not have a computer, so we enjoy the printed CM.”
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It is June 20, World Refugee Day. Near the Mexico-U.S. border, thousands of people are waiting. Fleeing conflict and violence in their own countries, they are seeking safety. Reports emerge of refugee children being detained and separated from their parents, who are also locked up. These families are torn apart by a policy of “zero tolerance” for so-called “illegal immigrants.”
The concept is simple. In a public place, an older adult sits on a green bench that is marked with the hashtag #ElderWisdom. Community members are invited to sit and engage in conversation about the senior’s life, experience and insights. Afterwards, community members can share about their experience on social media, using the hashtag.