Before I get completely submerged under the ripe tomatoes, ditto the grapes and the five-gallon pail of apples, plus the story I’m writing, I want to say something about last week.
I spent it at the Banff Centre in an intensive focus on short fiction led by Alexander MacLeod, literature professor and author of the Giller short-listed collection Light Lifting. I’ve never taken a writing retreat or week-long writing course, so I’m still feeling like a girl on her first trip to Disney. It’s a bit of a wonderful bubble one goes into, for sure. But the Disney analogy ends now: there’s nothing Minnie Mouse about carefully, brutally workshopping others’ writing (that is, learning to read), or being workshopped just as carefully and brutally. We all knew, of course, and tried to remember, this was where the benefit (a.k.a love) lay. Continue reading
Oh friends, I’d so hoped to be a regular blogger all summer, emphasis on regular, and I didn’t do so badly there for a week or two. And through the lovely days, things gathered in my head that I wished to tell you, but I didn’t get them spoken after all! Not that this is a tragedy of any proportion whatsoever, not for you or me; there are words enough swimming into everyone’s daily net and the ones that get away are rarely missed! A good thing, that. Continue reading
Filed under Books, Personal
He was born to a German-speaking Mennonite family in Siberia in 1917 and named Hans. As the changes wrought by the Russian and then Stalinism penetrated his community, he became Ivan. He served in the Red Army during World War II. When captured by the Germans, he was recognized as German and naturalized as a German. Now his name was Johann and he joined Hitler’s Army, serving on that side until he was captured. After release from an American POW camp, he applied to emigrate to Canada. It was a long, difficult process, but he and his bride Margaretha eventually got permission. In Canada, he became John. Continue reading
I’ve learned a few things while picking saskatoons, the sweet purple/red fruit of the saskatoon bush currently in season in Manitoba. These lessons may or may not be transferable to other endeavors.
1.Picking in a patch someone has discovered before you is slow hard picking. It’s akin to poor biblical Ruth gathering leftover grain behind the field harvesters. (My middle name is Ruth.) Nevertheless, dessert for supper can also be secured, if slowly, from one-here-one-there berries missed by the people who came before. Continue reading
When the invitation came via Facebook to attend “Honour the Apology,” a national day of prayer in response to news of nutritional experiments on aboriginal children through the Canadian residential school system — I responded with “Maybe.” I had time to go, but I’d “heard about” more than taken the time to “know about” this news. I have to admit I’m the type of person who likes to know what she’s getting into before she participates in causes! I remember feeling a similar large ignorance and uncertainty when I got involved in an evening of prayer and lament for sexually abused women in the Mennonite colonies of Bolivia several years ago. Continue reading
Franciscan writer Richard Rohr says, in Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, that for years he’s prayed for “one good humiliation a day.” He continues, “[A]nd then I must watch my reaction to it.” Rohr isn’t speaking of some masochistic desire for insult or injury, no 50 shades of gray implications here, but rather of a necessary exercise in the practice of an authentic life. The context is being real about oneself instead of trapped in the delusions of “any idealized role or self-image.” The word “humiliation” is built from the word “humble” whose root meaning is close to the ground, of the humus or earth. Human, that is. True to what one is. Continue reading