Monthly Archives: July 2019

Monday moments

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This past Monday, during our staff check-in before drop-in, we as a team acknowledged that we were feeling tired. There are a number of folks at The Dale whose lives are particularly tumultuous at the moment, a trend that we often see during the hot summer months. Between intense mental health struggles, housing (or lack there of) troubles, traumatic events and interpersonal conflicts, there are a lot of tough things going on in the lives of our friends.

With this in mind, we prayed for God’s peace and joy to rest upon us and our community, especially during that day’s drop-in. We prayed for glimpses of the Kingdom shining through. And this prayer was answered in so many lovely little ways:

  • A white haired woman, “Sarah”, was at drop-in for the first time ever. She saw people leaving the building with food, and thought she would come and see what was going on. She kept saying things like, “this is marvelous! I had no idea this place existed!” It was so encouraging to see our drop-in through new eyes — to be reminded that it’s a good and lovely thing that we eat a big healthy lunch together every week, seated around tables with friends, both new and old. That finding a safe, welcoming space is a delightful thing.
  • Two women in the community, who have a complicated history including a fair amount of conflict, were both on our annual trip to camp two year ago. Things came to a head, and some serious de-escalation was required. On Monday, one of them came up to us and said that she wanted to pay for the other one to come up to camp this year (we request that people contribute what they can towards the cost of the trip)…!
  • A friend, who has a quick temper and as been known to blow up at us with little warning, asked to borrow my phone. This is a common request, and I sometimes (ie. often) lose track of who has my phone at any given moment. I also absent-mindedly leave it lying around, and people are always finding it and returning it to me. So when I couldn’t locate my phone right away, I wasn’t surprised. This friend followed me around as I searched, and I was expecting him to lose his cool at any moment. Instead, he said “what colour is it? Oh, green? Like this one?” I turned around to see him smiling impishly and holding out my phone (which he’d had all along). He told me to keep a closer eye on it, then went peacefully on his way after we shared a chuckle.

While Monday’s drop-in was still pretty intense, I was so grateful when I looked back on the day and remembered these moments of peace and joy.

What we all need

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The Dale’s Tuesday night Bible study is always an adventure. We are currently reading through the book of Acts, which tells the story of the early church. This week we read about the way that the members of the early church shared everything in common; those who had resources shared with those who had less, and everyone had what they needed. We acknowledged that this practice is more complicated, now that the church is no longer a few thousand people in one city, but millions/billions of people spread out around the globe.

And we talked about how we can put the principle of sharing what we have into practice. We talked about community houses, community gardens, community meals. We talked about the philosophy of The Dale; that we all have things that we can share with each other, no matter what our financial situation happens to be.

One of the quietest members of the study, “Rick”, often comes out with the most profound questions. This week was no exception. “So, what does that mean in the context of addiction?” he asked. “What are we supposed to do when someone asks us for more and more, and you don’t know what to do?”

I put the question to the group. Someone pointed out that we all have an addiction of some sort – if not to street drugs or alcohol, then to TV, too much food, acquiring more possessions, the good opinions of others, social media, etc. We talked about what it means to say that everyone “has what they need”; that what we all really need is to belong and to be loved. This love and belonging is ultimately provided by the One who made us, and is experienced in community. Someone else pointed out that when this need isn’t met, we fill the void with other things like TV, or cigarettes, or crack.

At the end of our hour together, someone asked Marlene (a wise and beautiful soul) to sing a song for us, because they know that singing is a gift that Marlene loves to share with the community. She happily agreed, and sang “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”. The chorus goes like this:

“And now, let the weak say I am strong

Let the poor say I am rich

Because of what the Lord has done for us.”

Gratitude for God’s grace leads people to share what they have, like it did in the early church. I love seeing this reality at work in this quirky little community, so rich in love and wisdom and authenticity. I am made richer by nights like this.