The ‘brain drain’ phenomenon is where educated Canadians leave Canada for better work and pay in America. However, I have another phrase about a drain that is just as concerning. ‘The main drain’. Every year, a significant number of our most learned, stable, and experienced populace leave Canada at a critical time.
In most cultures, those in their 50s, 60s, and early 70s build and maintain their communities. They may be retired, but they are still active and can provide the wisdom and stability that society needs. And yet, every winter, Canada loses these ‘maintainers of community’ for months at a time. ‘The main drain’ – We miss you if you stay away too long! Winter is a time when depression increases, when young families and young adults could use the love and support of a grandparent.
The messages of mainstream media are about individual gain and autonomy. How to retire well by saving up for yourself. Do we ever hear about how to steward life well so that we will have much to give others? We learn how to perform in the workplace to get that promotion, but what about developing your character so that you have the wisdom to help others?
It is good to take breaks and holidays. However, is it becoming too much of a goal for this current generation of maintainers and the next? My grandparents farmed until they were no longer physically able, and my father had the good fortune of being able to do homecare work for others until he was 77 (some of his clients were younger than him). May we enjoy using our gifts and experiences to leave a legacy for those around us to be blessed by and follow.
At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), we hope to include more winter activity with our ‘Winter in the Village’ events in the cold months of December, January, and February. Helping our community and new immigrants be active in winter is a new venture for us, and we could use more volunteers for this to succeed. Just like others in your life, non-profits are also facing increasing interest and inflationary pressures, so if time is a factor, consider donating to support a cause you care about.
If you want to visit the village throughout the winter, consider an annual membership (Individual-$30, Family-$50) to enjoy the village as often as you wish. For those who have volunteered at MHV this year, you are invited to attend our Volunteer Appreciation on October 5th to be recognized for the amazing work you do to support the well-being of our community.
I close with this Shaker’s song from the 19th century:
Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where I ought to be;
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed;
to turn, turn, will be my delight.
Till by turning, turning we come round right.