When Erinn or I tell the story of The Dale, we often say that roughly three years ago we spilled out into the streets. The Dale (then PNC) could no longer afford to pay rent, and the decision was made to become a church without our own walls, rather then shut our (figurative) doors completely.
This way of being a roaming church has become a huge part of our identity, and sometimes I even forget that it’s not “normal”. Having no space of our own has it’s challenges, for SURE, but on days like today I am reminded anew of the beautiful blessing that it is to be a mobile church.
There is some work being done on the space that we usually inhabit on Wednesdays, and so we moved our art and breakfast drop-in into the park! It was the loveliest morning. We shared a simple meal of muffins, fruit and coffee. Some of us did some art, and some of us created music. We were able to connect with folks in the neighbourhood that we don’t usually see, and enjoyed being outside under the warm sun. The community was not at all thrown off by our change of location, since we have all become used to moving around, and being The Dale wherever two or more of us we end up!
At one point, a man came over and complimented the musicians on their rendition of “Sultans of Swing”, saying that he thought someone had been playing it on the radio. He was delighted to find the two of them playing it live. It turns out that this gentleman is a classical music radio show host! He was intrigued by our gathering, and took Erinn’s business card. While nothing more may come of this encounter, it was super encouraging, and another reminder of the neat things that can happen when we spill out into the neighbourhood and make ourselves open to new friendships.
I am grateful for days like today.
Just over a month ago I was gifted with two tickets to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I asked a friend from Sanctuary, who adores classical music, to join me. He did, and we had a wonderful time. He knows far more about classical than I do, and enjoyed it on a deeper level than I think I’ll ever be able to. It was a joy to be with him, seeing him soak in the piano concerto, as at home in Roy Thompson hall as he is on the street. He belonged there, and the music welcomed him in.
Today I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario with a friend from The Dale. Someone had gifted her with a family pass, and she was having a hard time finding someone who wanted to go along. Eventually she asked me, and of course I said yes! Again, this friend knows way more about art than I do. We spent a long time looking at the model ships, and she taught me a ton about them, having made some herself when she was younger. We cruised around the halls of this grand gallery and soaked in the beauty. Again, my friend was totally at home, and the art welcomed her in.
I love having these experiences with my friends. I love being welcomed in by the art, to enjoy its beauty, with no questions asked.This reminds me of the Source of all creativity, who created us with the longing to create, and to enjoy the creations of others. The Source who welcomes all of us in.
My friend “Matt”, the person doing battle with addictions who I wrote about in the last “Beautiful moments” post, is continuously astounding me with deep, faith-filled one liners. On Tuesday, he told me that he was at another drop-in where some people were giving him a hard time. So he went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and said to himself “Trust in the Lord. Not in other people. Just trust in the Lord.” He told me, “That was it! I came back out, feeling a lot better.” Beautiful.
On Tuesday evening I showed up to Bible Study at Coffee Time, and there were already 12 people gathered. By the end, there were 18 of us altogether!! I was totally blown away and a little bit overwhelmed. I gave the group the option of splitting up into smaller groups, but almost everyone responded immediately with a resounding “No!” These folks came out on a Tuesday night to study the Bible, and to be together. Beautiful.
On Wednesday morning we had our art drop-in, and were joined by a youth group from Tillsonburg. Some of the youth were eager to do some sketching, while others hung back. A long-time member of the community, who is a prolific paper cut-out artist, encouraged some of the less eager youth to try their hand at paper-cutting. He patiently taught them his craft, encouraging them and giving them pointers. Beautiful.
On Wednesday night, Steve and I were on outreach, and spent some time in Tim Hortons. A friend joined us for a while, and we had a good chat. As he was leaving, he turned around and said “The peace of the Lord be with you!”