I’m finding it hard to believe that I’ve been working at The Dale for nearly 4 years now. During the spring/summer of 2012 I was feverishly working on finishing my masters thesis, and trying to decide where I would work in the fall. Erinn and I had met in May of that year, and I immediately knew that I wanted her to be my friend and mentor, and potentially co-worker. Four years later, I’m SO grateful that I decided to take the plunge into the unknown that was Parkdale!
Over the past few days I’ve had a beautiful opportunity to reflect on my time at The Dale thus far, as I transfer photos and memos from my old, dying, phone to my computer. About a year into my time in Parkdale I realized that so many lovely (and hard) things were happening all the time that there was no way I would be able to remember them all. So I started making memos on my phone, typing out at least some of these moments shortly after they happened. I’ve spent a number of hours transferring these memos and smiling, laughing, and/or tearing up. All these little occurrences, and the thousands of moments that I didn’t record, have flowed together to create my experience of life at The Dale.
As I look back all these little snapshots, I feel all sorts of things:
- joy and wonder at how far certain friends (and I) have come, in terms of managing their anger or anxiety or addictions in the context of a community where we all rely heavily on the grace of God.
- warmth and gratitude at how much closer so many relationships have become over the last few years.
- grief at how much I miss the many friends who have passed away, or are too sick to be present, or have disappeared from the community without us knowing why.
- sorrow that some people have left the community because of interpersonal conflict that they felt to be insurmountable, despite our best efforts to mediate reconciliation.
- gratitude for the many moments of deep encouragement, often from unforeseen sources.
- more gratitude, for the wide variety of gifts and ways of participating in the life of The Dale that community members share.
I’ve shied away from sharing specifics, because the significance of these moments is tough to explain without their larger context, and many of them feel so sacred that I dare not attempt to translate their meaning through words on a computer screen. But please allow me to share a few quotes from community members that I find to be inspiring/hilarious/lovely.
When asked how he was doing, a friend who was panhandling outside the Dollarama said with determined optimism, “Could be better… but could be a LOT worse!”
A friend ending a prayer during our church service on Feb 14th with “Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Lord!”
Another friend’s prayer when he ran into us on outreach: “Dear Lord, thank you for the love you show us through our friends. Please help us to keep moving, despite our diseases and shortcomings. Please give us grace.”
What a privilege. Time to start a new round of memos 🙂