Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Spring is here and there are signs of new life everywhere. The first evidence appeared at the market where we noticed huge sacks of radishes - such a welcome addition to the rather sad and forlorn-looking cabbages, carrots and potatoes that have been hibernating in someone's root cellar all winter. It's amazing how the sight and taste of these little red globes can bring so much pleasure. We realize again how spoiled we've become back home with all the choices and abundance. Here we're rediscovering the joy of doing "more with less." This is exactly what our people do - serving delicious meals using whatever is availalbe, decorating with a minimum of materials, creating interesting and imaginative programs with few resources.

Easter Sunday was an example. 130 people crowded our worship space, not a chair to spare. The children and youth were all involved in recreating the resurrection story, moving from a contemporary scene of questioning to the historical narrative itself. The joyful Easter greeting Христос воскрес! воистено воскрес! - repeated three times, rang out again and again, Christ is risen, Christ is risen ideed.

Earlier in the week Ira, our cook, Oksana and I baked paska for our Mom's group. When they came to the Centre on Wednesday we made the cottage cheese spread together and then had tea. We kept hearing murmurs of "вкусно", phonetically pronounced fcoosna, the "oo-o" long drawn out. This is Russian for "delicious".

Of all religious holidays in Ukraine Easter is the most important. We shared family traditions. Our Moms all come from Russian Orthodox backgrounds and over time they have let go of some of the strict traditional observances. The season of Lent was 40 days of deprivation, giving up eating meat, eggs, butter and leavened bread. It was meant to be a time of soul cleansing and penitence. Paska had great symbolic significance. The one who baked the bread must keep her thoughts pure and remain quiet while the bread is being baked. It is not eaten until Easter Sunday after it has been taken to the cathedral at midnight and blessed by the priest. They talked of how their mothers had cleaned their house, washed the curtains and white-washed the tree trunks all in preparation for this great event.

The yard at the Centre was also given a spring make-over. Our tree trunks were given a fresh coat of white-wash. We joined the staff in clearing the lawn of rocks and debris in preparation for the first mowing. Then the highlight of the day - we introduced the staff to a wiener roast. The debri was lit in our fire-pit, sausages were bought, Rudy created wiener sticks and we had a feast.

1 comment:

Hildegard Thiessen said...

Was great reading the
stories of your contacts
threw the Mennonite Centre.
Am very interested in your on going stories & expereinces.