Monthly Archives: September 2019

Musical Chairs


At The Dale I sometimes find myself in a conversation with someone where I need to work pretty hard to track what is being communicated. I believe that these conversations are important, even if I fail to follow my friend’s train of thought, because we all need to simply be heard.

Yesterday I was in one of those conversations, with a relatively new friend. This person is typically very quiet, tending to observe their surroundings rather than interacting in a verbal way. I wasn’t even sure if they were able to communicate in this manner.

But, lo and behold, while I was eating dinner at St. Francis’ Table this friend plunked themselves down and started talking to me! I needed to lean in close and ask them to repeat themselves a number of times, but quickly realized that there were a number of deep and earnest thoughts being communicated to me. Again, I needed to work hard to track these thoughts, but near the end my friend came out with this beautiful statement:

“Life isn’t a game of musical chairs… There is always a place for you. It’s not a game of musical chairs. There’s always a spot for you in God’s hands.”

This thought has really stuck with me, given the reality of so many people these days: people facing eviction, folks being pushed from one temporary shelter to another, people who have been homeless for a long time, refugees, people facing deportation, people who are made to feel that there is no place for them in society or the church because of who they are… The list could go on.

My friend is absolutely right; there is always a place for each one of us in God’s hands. My hope and prayer is that we will all work hard to make our cities and communities feel less and less like a game of musical chairs.

Captured moments


A couple of weeks ago, Pete, Meg and I were headed out for a walk around Parkdale. For some reason we were talking about photographs, and how some people are big into photos and albums and scrapbooks, and some people just aren’t. I told them that I was always the person in my family who would spend hours pouring over photo albums. Sometimes I would pull out a big stack and sit in the hallway, surrounded by decades worth of captured moments.

Not two minutes after this conversation, we ran into a friend walking down the sidewalk with a camera bag slung over his shoulder. This friend has been in pretty rough shape recently, so it was good to see him walking around, enjoying the day. He pulled out his camera to show us: an older, film Minolta. I asked him what he liked to photograph, and he told me that he mostly took pictures of his partner, “Laura” (who I’ve written about here); snapshots of their life in Parkdale. I told him that I thought that was great.

The next thing I knew, our friend was asking us to pose for a picture– an honour that I hadn’t been expecting. Then Laura speed-shuffled her way across Queen Street and said that she wanted a picture with us too.

I still can’t get over the beauty of this experience. Laura has told us that she often receives insults from people on the street. It was therefore such a joy to be invited into a moment where her beauty was being recognized and celebrated. Our friend promised to give us a copy of these photos when they are developed, and I can’t wait. They’ll be kept in a safe and treasured spot, as will the memory of those moments.