Mennonite Heritage Village

A Time to Ponder & to Sigh

by Gary Dyck

At the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) in Manitoba, we know there is a season for everything. A time to build, a time to hibernate. A time to go out and a time to stay in.

I grew up experiencing the cycle of life with my farm parents. I was three when we moved off the big farm, but they still maintained that way of living by having the largest backyard garden, and then doubling it with another garden of potatoes and corn behind the hobby barn. They did not stop moving until the snow fell. Then came to the time to play games and to ponder.

Pondering and feeling our emotions is like deep breaths for the heart. It is good to laugh, and it is good to mourn. To take time to be in a safe place where we can release what is bottled. Poetry prompts us to slow down, ponder, feel and to sigh. Washing dishes has that effect for me too.

Recently, I read a poem from British poet W. H. Auden written over half a century ago. Reading it you might say he wrote it during a pandemic and I would agree with you, but he did not. It is a splendid example of how abstract poetry is timeless and can find concrete meaning in the life of the reader. Read it three times aloud, slowly and meditatively. Read it again the next day.

XXVI (in part)

In the burrows of the Nightmare

Where justice naked is,

Time watches from the shadow

And coughs when you would kiss.

In headaches and in worry

Vaguely life leaks away,

And Time will have his fancy

To-morrow or to-day.

Into many a green valley

Drifts the appalling snow;

Time breaks the threaded dances

And the diver’s brilliant bowl.

O plunge your hands in water,

Plunge them in up to the wrist;

Stare, stare in the basin

And wonder what you’ve missed…

O look, look in the mirror,

O look in your distress;

Life remains a blessing

Although you cannot bless.

O stand, stand at the window

as the tears scald and start;

You shall love your crooked neighbor

With your crooked heart.

The skill of ponderance is a valuable life skill that will help you get through the seasons. It is what MHV as a museum offers you. A place to ponder, to learn, to sigh. Even if you have seen the buildings or exhibits once, you can always find more meaning out of them with another passing as long as you take time to ponder.

We have one more event for you this year! Mennonites have a long-standing history of meeting violence with non-resistance. However, this primary response to violence and war has been tested, and even discarded, at numerous points over their five hundred-year history. Senior Curator Andrea Klassen will be giving a special preview of Mennonite Heritage Village’s 2021 exhibit Mennonites at War, highlighting artefacts from the museum’s collection. This presentation is part of Tourmagination’s virtual tour series (more information on their website or find the link under ‘events’ on our website).

Calendar of Events

Village Books & Gifts is open online 24/7.                                                      

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mennonite Heritage Village is temporarily closed to the public.

December 1, 7pm – Tourmagination virtual preview of Mennonite Heritage Village’s 2021 exhibit “Mennonites at War”. Senior Curator Andrea Klassen will be highlighting artefacts from the museum’s collection as part of Tourmagination’s virtual tour series.