O come, o come

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It’s been quite a while since I last blogged and, as per usual, lots of beautiful things and lots of hard things have happened.

The camping trip/retreat that I was anticipating in my last post was a delight. The weather was cold but bright, we coexisted harmoniously (with some very minor exceptions), and we had a ton of fun. One Dale retreat first-timer could barely contain his wonder and joy, exclaiming things like “Did you see the lake?!…Did you see my cabin?!… Did you see Mars?!” approximately every 5 minutes 🙂 It was a trip to remember, for all of of us.

Another lovely thing happened a couple of weeks ago, when we witnessed what might be considered a minor miracle! “Tom”, one of the two people that we have ever barred (for a few months) from the Dale was at our Wednesday morning drop in. The community member who usually prepares breakfast was away, so I was getting things organized to start cooking myself. Tom was in a grumpy mood, which isn’t terribly unusual. He started criticizing my methods, implying that he could do it better himself. In exasperation I said, “well then, why don’t you?”… and so he did! He cooked the entire breakfast on his own, hash browns, bacon, scrambled eggs and all. And it was delicious. The hilarious part was that he didn’t want anyone knowing that he had gladly cooked for the group, because it would ruin his “bad reputation”… so he gave us all the credit when people commented on how good it was! Amazing.

These are just a couple of the very sweet things that have happened in the last few months. We’ve also baked Christmas cookies together, gone caroling, and shared many deep and/or hilarious conversations.

Like I said, though, there are some really tough things facing the community as well. As Erinn wrote about last week in her blog post, we are still waiting to hear whether or not the rumors are true that a Dale member has passed away. This friend was/is hilarious, kind and deeply caring. He was/is also the other person that we have barred from the Dale for a few months, because when he drinks he turns into someone we barely recognize who is prone to violence. My dearest hope is that we’ll see this friend around Parkdale again soon, and be able tell him how much we love him… And my fear is that the rumors are true.

A number of other community members are in the hospital, and/or needing to go to court for various reasons. I just came home from visiting a friend in the ICU, who is in a coma. I prayed for him, that he would be soaked in the light of Christ as he lay in his hospital bed. Then I looked up and noticed a crucifix over the lamp above that bed. But unlike on most crucifixes, this Jesus was wearing a robe and had radiant light shining around his head- reminding me more of His ascension than His death.

It occurred to me that this was a beautiful Advent reminder of the pain and hope inherent in His story, and ours. As we ache for the brokenness we see around and within us, we long for Jesus’ coming in glory.

O come, o come Emmanuel!

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