Monthly Archives: January 2020

An Ode to Coffee Time

Standard

Parkdale’s Coffee Time is closing this week. While it may seem strange to have an emotional attachment to a B-list coffee franchise location… I do. It’s not just that Coffee Time’s closure smacks of gentrification (the pricing-out of affordable food/drink options, along with affordable housing options), which it does. Coffee Time was more than just a divey coffee shop. Here are a few reasons why:

Because it was a second (often only) living room for many Parkdalians.

Because it still had a glassed-walled section that used to be a smoker’s room, a good twenty years after smoking in public places was banned.

Because The Dale was allowed to host its (sometimes rowdy) Tuesday night Bible study in the aforementioned smoker’s room for a couple of years (until it was finally renovated).

Because The Dale was always allowed to sing Christmas carols (sometimes quite off-key) inside the store, during our annual carolling-around-Parkdale night.

Because the staff let us play Pictionary, Hangman, Charades, and/or Twenty Questions on the third Tuesday of every month, during our “taking a break from Bible study to just hang out” night.

Because it was a regular stop on our Wednesday night outreach walks, because we knew that our folks from The Dale found it to be a welcoming and non-judgemental space to spend a few hours out of the cold.

Thanks for everything, Coffee Time. You’ll be missed.

Screenshot 2020-01-26 at 10.52.27 AM

Stories

Standard

Last week we held another memorial at The Dale. This one was for a woman named Mary Patterson, also known on the streets of Parkdale as “Irish Mary”. She had a large personality, and considered herself to be a sort of den mother to her crew of friends. She would never hesitate to let you know what she really thought, and was so generous that she would give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it more than she did.

I didn’t know Mary very well; I learned most of what I’ve just written about her during the story-sharing time at her memorial. This element of Dale memorials (sharing stories about the person who has passed away) is crucial. We leave lots of time for it, and believe that it’s one of the most important things that we can do as a community. Stories matter.

As Thomas King puts it, “the truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” We honour the lives of our friends by telling and re-telling the stories of who they were and who they continue to be to us.

I’ve been reading a book recently called In the Shelter: finding a home in the world, by Padraig O Tuama. He, too, writes about stories, and how they can either create shelters for us, or cast shadows over us. Stories matter.

I’ve included parts of a poem from this book below, that I interpret to be a conversation between a human and the Divine.

And I said to him:

Are there answers to all of this?

And he said:

The answer is in a story

and the story is being told.

And I said:

But there is so much pain

And she answered, plainly:

Pain will happen.

The answer is in the story

and the story isn’t finished.

– Padraig O Tuama

We are part of the Big Story of God’s love for the world, and the story isn’t finished. Our little stories can and do weave their way into this Big Story; Mary’s stories, my stories, your stories.