A difficulty for all of us

(Photo by Kyle Glenn/Unsplash)

War seems close to home for many of us when it hits Ukraine. My paternal grandparents (and my husband’s) fled Crimea as refugees nearly 100 years ago, getting married in Kitchener, Ont., and then moving to Manitoba. Conversations are being triggered in my family and in our congregation on the multi-generational impacts of those traumas.

Mend our beating heart

Michael Wilms (left), pictured in 2015 with his wife, Caitlin, at the Chortitza Mädchenschule (secondary school for girls) in the village of Chortitza. (Photo courtesy of Michael Wilms)

My grandfather, Harry Giesbrecht, referred to the country, language and people of Ukraine as his “beating heart.” The many trips back “home” breathed life into his aging lungs. The cool water of the Dnieper, the pothole-riddled roads near Lichtenau, Molochansk and Nikopol, and the patriotic anthems transformed my 80-year-old grandfather into a young man.

Life can be real

(Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen/Unsplash)

“Life can be real / on a snowmobile,” croons Canadian music legend Stompin’ Tom Connors in one of his many songs about Canadian life and culture. As someone who occasionally dabbles in songwriting myself, I have often had a chuckle when I hear that line with a bit of forced rhyme. What does “life can be real” mean anyway?

Kitchener MWC Assembly

(Photo: David L. Hunsberger / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Mennonite Publishing House occupies a corner in the Kitchener (Ont.) Auditorium with its bookstand at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in 1962. Three women in the foreground gravitate towards the parenting books and the bestselling Mennonite Community Cookbook, while two men browse titles related to missions.

‘Make your tents large’

(Photo by Cindy Chen/Unsplash)

In my federal voting life, I have voted only for the Liberal party.

When I suggested that as the opening sentence for my next Canadian Mennonite column, my two eldest granddaughters, 17 and 20, immediately began guessing at the percentage of readership that would immediately condemn me to the lake of fire.

Waldemar Janzen

(Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives / Photo by Rudy Regehr, Canadian Mennonite Bible College Photo Collection)

At the 1970 Conference of Mennonites in Canada annual sessions in Winkler, Man., Waldemar Janzen, a Canadian Mennonite Bible College professor, gave a report on young people, stating: “Not everything is wrong with young people today. There is a great openness and honesty among youth today. There is a remarkable depth of insight into self and society.

Reta-coloured lenses

(Photo by Bud Helisson/Unsplash)

I’m not sure what happened over the past two years. Maybe I finally accepted that it’s over. We’ve passed the point of no return. Climate change; democracy collapse; and the death of common sense, dialogue and civility. This is our reality and it seems beyond repair.

A prayerful reflection on the protests of February 2022

(Photo by Naomi Mckinney/Unsplash)

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

When tensions grow, positions harden, and hearts grow cold, we call for Canadians to pause, step back and reflect.

We see that (on Feb. 3) Ontario declared a state of emergency because of protests in cities, towns and border crossings. Across the country, leaders at all levels of government are struggling to respond to protests.

Klippenstein house

(Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives / Lawrence Klippenstein Photo Collection)

This is a photo of the home of Bernhard Klippenstein (1880-1973) and Maria (nee Dyck) Klippenstein (1882-1956) in Waldheim, Northwest Territories. They moved from Altbergthal, near Altona, Man., to Waldheim around 1902. They returned to Altbergthal around 1907.

CPT changed its name

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan met with Kak Bapir and some of the villagers of Basta village from the Pishdar district on Feb. 2, 2022. Basta villagers have been partnering with CPT since 2008. Basta village is one of the hundreds of villages that have been targeted and bombed by both Turkey and Iran for a long time. CPT is working alongside the villagers to stop the Turkish and Iranian cross-border bombings. (Photo courtesy of CPT)

The organization formerly known as Christian Peacemaker Teams has changed its name, replacing the meaning of that first letter with “Community.” I have two reactions. First, the name change is good for the organization. Second, it shows that the broader church has not caught the vision of the peacemaker Jesus.


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