Edmonton First Mennonite Church has a long-standing tradition of holding its fall retreat every Labour Day long weekend at Camp Valaqua. For the first time in two years, members were once again able to come together and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and spend time in each other’s company.
I have been thinking a lot about transition. Since early 2017, transition has been the theme of my life. When the expiry date of my work visa in the U.S. was nearing, and there was no clear path or short timeline to a new visa, my husband Allan and I faced many decisions about what we would do next, none of which offered completely satisfactory options.
How comfortable are you with change? Change seems to be the most consistent “unchanging” reality of our lives. We are always experiencing change. Thankfully many, or even most, of the changes we experience are small or gradual, like the steady change in my hair colour to ever-more grey!
“Changes coming upon us / It keeps moving, moving around us. / Got to keep singing, knowing he loves us; / Got to keep joy in our hearts.”
It was my first day on the job as associate pastor. I enthusiastically unlocked the door to my new office and was taken aback by the writing on the wall. Literally. There was a massive white banner hanging on the wall with a warning, handwritten in giant red letters, that read, “We don’t like change!”
The Italian Alps, near the Agape Ecumenical Center in Prali, Italy. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
I have spent the last week in the beautiful Alps of Italy, at the Agape Ecumenical Center, gathering with an international community to delve into interreligious dialogue. I am the only Canadian and the only Mennonite. But considering how often this happens when I travel abroad, I have stopped being surprised by this.
Reflecting on international students and culture the other day, a colleague commented on how a group of students who had been struggling in classes refused to blame anyone for their failing grades, took responsibility, and made no excuses. He was surprised because U.S. students usually go on and on with excuses, blaming roommates, teachers, the school, society, but not accepting their own part in not meeting the expectations for the class.