friends?

I keep trying to write this really deep blog post about how much I am trying to learn about myself in this line of work and how life can be hard sometimes when it feels like people are against you. But it’s not working out and maybe that’s because all I have to write this week is this:

After coming back from a community retreat this weekend, a Dale friend and I had words on the bus. I asked him to stop doing something and in not so many words, he told me to stop talking. We didn’t talk the rest of the trip home or the next day. On Tuesday I felt a shift and he said hey to me, so I brought him a coffee as a peace offering. He took my hand and said, “Friends?”.

Grace overflowed in that moment and I was shown again how God works in mysterious ways. It was a seemingly easy moment between us in a mixture of  a day filled with frustration, anxiety, tears, and worry. God showed me grace, my friend showed me grace, and I showed the same.

A peace offering and an outstretched hand. I know things aren’t always this simple, and even in this situation there was a lot of work years past and days before that led to this tiny miracle. But I am grateful for the hope that sometimes they can be this simple.

“Friends?” “Yep.”

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

 

 

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fierce love.

This community work that we do at The Dale is hard and fun and good and deeply painful and amazingly weird. It is full of contradictions that can happen in the span of a year, a month, a week, a day, and in 5 minutes. However, one thing that never changes is the fierce love that our friends show day after day, minute after minute. I can think of a hundred examples of where I have found love, in dark and light places, and I am so grateful that I can witness Jesus in my Dale friends all the time. They show me what it means to forgive, to fight for people, to care, to give.

On one of the last warm days of this year, we were sitting in the park on a Tuesday for drop-in and suddenly an egg came flying down from an overhead balcony, hitting Joanna in the arm. Next came a potato and an apple and we all moved from our table away from the flying produce. It turns out a couple of kids were thinking they were funny and throwing things at us, and it caused a lot of pain for our folks. To see Joanna hurt, no matter how odd it was, to see an act of injustice done to someone they loved was deeply upsetting for our friends. It was fierce love – they offered encouragement, maybe some angry threats in her defence, and cries of anger and disappointment. They cared that one of their own was hurt, and it was hard.

Recently we accompanied a friend to court, all three of us. It was a hard day and a long day, especially for them. I couldn’t stay until the end of the day, but when I left, my friend pulled me in for a long hug and thanked me for being there. I wish I had thanked them in return, for allowing me to be. For trusting me and inviting me into their space. They showed me a fierce love – a love that allowed me to see them in pain and sadness and anger. That allowed me to be there and show up.

Joanna and I often visit a friend with mobility issues to bring groceries and things to his place. He needs some help to clean, and in trying to get a support cleaner in a broken system, his place needed to be clean to show he needed help. Jo and I went for a visit and worked for an hour or so cleaning and talking. He showed us some fierce love that day – by trying his best to pre-clean for us in the best way he could, by talking with us and making us laugh, by thanking us with his big toothy grin, by being vulnerable and trusting us in his home, by being our friend too.

There are days I see a fight on the brink of boiling. My eyes shift from person to person and I judge whether or not to speak or let them try. My instincts and my own fear of conflict tell me to run out the door. And suddenly and arm is extended with a fist- not meant for hurting, but for bumping showing a sign of respect and love. “Sorry, man. I’m not angry at you. It’s the world. We’re friends right?” “Right.”

Contradictions. Fierce love. Anger and peace. Happiness and tears. Hurt and joy. Love and love and love heaped upon more love can change a lot of things. We try our best to love in places that may seem dark and scary and in return we get a whole lot of love back. A fierce kind of love, that protects, uplifts, shares. and scares me sometimes, but mostly brings me joy. I am grateful for this place, this work, my friends, my team.

I have been in bed sick for three days, and I miss them. Thanks for hearing me out.

Peace.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

finding peace.

i am no stranger to hearing the words “it’s okay” or “don’t worry”. as a kid, I would ask my parents hundreds of many times before bed if the lights were off or the door was locked or the stove was off, or or or. you get the idea. now as an adult in my own place, i ask myself these questions all the same. “don’t worry,” they would say. “everything is okay.”

i recently discovered that i am a six on the enneagram scale. while i am still figuring that out, apparently it means that i can be security-oriented (read: anxious and suspicious). i guess it means that i like to, or need to, know that i am safe. that i can be at ease.

what i am trying to say i think is that i like to be at peace. part of the hard part about working in a community like The Dale or Sanctuary is the unpredictability of people. actually, part of living in the world is the unpredictability of people. at a moments notice, someone can move from happy to sad, angry, hostile, or violent. sometimes, when folks are experiencing mental health issues or addictions, this unpredictability can become amplified.

for someone who is anxious and security oriented, who can struggle with making decisions alone or being without a support system, this can be scary. but it can also be an opportunity. to trust others and trust myself. to not worry so much that people will blow up, but to know that i will be okay if they do. to not fear others, but find strength and hope in the ups and downs of all relationships, ones that are easy and hard.

to be honest, this blog has been hard to write. i feel like i have something i want to say but not sure how or what the words should be. alas, the six coming out in me again 😉 anyways. thanks for reading even though i lied in my last blog and haven’t been here as regularly as i had hoped. i will try and try again. thanks for sticking by me.

if you’re feeling fear today or in this season, know that at least the world is changing around us even if it feels as if we are stuck in limbo. that autumn is here and that means a fresh start in many ways. know that He who knows all and sees all is with you in all things, and there is no reason to be afraid (but it’s okay if you still feel like you are). it’s okay to ask for help and find your security in Him and in your people. and it’s okay to find it in yourself. you are stronger than you think! i am too.

let’s find peace together this week.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

 

 

being honest.

hey friends,

it has been a while since i’ve jumped on here, and if you’re a regular reader i’m sure you’ve caught on to the fact that i haven’t been writing too regularly the past couple of months. my heart is beating a little faster and my palms are getting a little sweatier because i still find it hard to be honest here sometimes, even though i know being vulnerable with you is what brings us closer together and can bring healing.

to be honest, this summer was hard for me in relation to working at the dale. i don’t think many people know this besides ian, jo and erinn because i haven’t talked much about it online or otherwise. for some reason(s) which i am trying to collect in my mind still, i’ve had a really hard time mentally being at work. i think between planning a wedding, getting married, starting part time at sanctuary again, and moving, etc etc, my ability to connect with my community and dale friends dwindled.

i started to doubt myself, my ability and skills, my reason for doing this work, if i was even supposed to be doing this work, and my God for what felt like leading me here and bailing. it got to the point where i would cry on sunday nights, dreading the week ahead. a couple of weeks ago i finally came clean during a monday morning check in. let’s just say it wasn’t easy for any of us. for me to tell, and for jo and erinn to hear i am sure. there were some tears. however, speaking my truth to my team was a huge deal for me and it lifted a giant weight off my shoulders. they spoke encouragement into me, and erinn and i had a meeting the next day which helped my spirit a lot.

i realized that while i had been so overwhelmed with life things, my capacity to relate to people had left me. i didn’t have the desire to sit and chat with my dale friends, maybe because i did not want to be honest with how i was feeling – that i wasn’t feeling connected in this community. but at the dale, that is one thing we value most of all: being honest in our brokenness, because we are all broken in some way, and holding each other tightly during these moments of vulnerability is really important. as a staff team, we receive lots of love just as much as we pour out.

i realized that instead of dealing with my brokenness, i had been hiding it from my team and i had been retreating from my community. i was in the kitchen a lot, trying to keep busy doing work with my hands instead of sitting with my people and doing work with my heart. and if you know me and us, you know that one piece of advice to anyone coming to the dale for the first time is to sit down next to someone and talk. it may feel like to serve is to always be “doing” something. but sitting down next to someone and chatting, or reading the paper, or eating a meal etc is a HUGE part of serving in God’s kingdom. Jesus did it himself with numerous people! He loved people by being with them.

a goal of mine for the past couple of weeks since being honest with my feelings, has been to step right out of the kitchen and sit at a table with my friends and chat. it’s hard for me still, and i’m not saying being in the kitchen is unnecessary because it is needed and an important part of making a community meal. however, for me, i was really missing that connection with my folks. and since stepping out of the kitchen more, i have felt a lot better. i’ve enjoyed talking with people about movie reviews, asking them how their week was, telling them about mine, passing the platter of food, and talking about our favourite various things.

by stepping into my discomfort and connecting with people again, i have felt a little more like myself. it was a reset that i needed. it will not always be easy and there will still be times i’m sure where i doubt myself. but i am working on connecting with my team and my community more so we can support each other and love each other through all the seasons of change and lifeness.

whew. this turned out a lot longer than i expected and i didn’t know all this was going to come out when i started typing. if you made it this far, thanks for reading and coming along this blog journey with me. i ask for your prayer into the fall as i try to step more into community and out of my shell in the kitchen. i ask for your encouragement and i thank you to whoever is reading this for being on my team. you are so appreciated.

peace to you.

meg

ps: thanks for understanding when my words only flow on here once in a blue moon. i am working on being back here more regularly 🙂

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

bless you.

There is a man that stands in the hallway that leads from the bus to the subway at Dufferin Station. I have seen him there on a few different occasions, as I am sure many have who take this route home at this time. He stands, not sits, often asking passers by for spare change. But not always.

Today all he said to the woman in front of me was, “Bless you.” She turned around, not stopping her quick walk, and apologized for not having any money. An acknowledgement, some words, an apology – probably more than this man receives from a lot of folks who pass by him and do not look, do not speak, do not acknowledge. They do not know how or do not care.

But today was different. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t have any money.”

“All I said was bless you, ma’am. Bless you.” The man just wanted to bless this woman, no change required.

How often we are quick to judge someone based on what they look like, what they smell like, what we have seen them ask for many times before. How quick we are to pass by not saying anything or saying the wrong thing because we don’t know what to do. When “these people” are our friends, children of God, human beings full of life and love and soul too. People who can speak and have conversations and like to be smiled at and spoken to, like we all do.

Bless you. All I said was bless you.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

let people surprise you.

let the story begin with me admitting that i upset someone on monday at lunch. it was unintentional and unavoidable – at the time i was unable to give someone something that they had asked for. unfortunately, although i tried to be as polite as i could and explain my reasoning, this person was still hurt. due to all sorts of context that does not need to be explained here, i could understand why this person was upset. the result was that i got called a multitude of names and was sworn at a few times.

my outsides let it slide. no, i wasn’t upset, i got where this person was coming from, i’m not hurt by what they said, etc etc. that was a lie. my insides were scared. and a little hurt. i was worried this would change things between this person and i. i was worried they would hold a grudge and be mad for a long time, and the truth is i knew i would most likely have to see them again on sunday, potentially alone, and i did not want to deal with the tension that might occur.

however, what happened next surprised me.

joanna and i were sitting in drop in a couple days later and i saw the person walking towards the building. my stomach fell into my big toes and my heart rate sped up. i told myself to relax but it was only about 15 mins after we had opened and we had 1 hr and 45 mins of a potentially tense and awkward time to endure together if this person came into the room. suddenly there was a knock on the door (lord forgive me, my hard heart did not allow me to get up and answer). the person walked in, stopped in the middle of the room in front of where i was sitting, and said, “i have to say something. i was awful to meagan on monday and i am really sorry about it.” they looked me in the eye, and i looked at them and thanked them for their most honest, not even embarrassed in the slightest to talk openly in front of everyone, and quick apology. they took a seat and looked at me again and said, “im really not a bad person.” i nodded and smiled at them with my eyes in the best way i could because i knew that to be true. and we returned to our normal colouring, talking, breakfast eating selves that day.

i learned a lesson that wednesday morning. we are going to hurt people. whether we mean to or not, that fact is inevitable. this person and i hurt each other in our own way that day but i let my heart be hardened. i was afraid. but my friend surprised me with her love and her ability to reconcile with me so fast. my heart should have been open to it, but i wanted to keep her anger out. by doing that, i almost didnt let her love in. and that would have been a great loss.

i am grateful for the lessons i continue to learn every day. i am grateful for my dale family. we get mad at each other sometimes. we let each other down. but most of the time, we pick each other up. we love each other. and it is a wonderful gift. people will surprise you… remember to let them.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

a lost ring.

It happened in a split second. A new friend was visiting the Dale for the first time and generously wanted to help with the dishes after lunch. He grabbed his hand and his eyes widened. “My ring! I’ve lost my ring.”

Suddenly about 5 people were on the floor. Eyes were pacing back and forth looking for a silver ring that could literally have rolled anywhere. “Raven” and I saw it at the same time, and he crawled frantically under the table and handed the ring back to our new friend.

Raven looked at me and said, with his hand on his heart in relief, “It’s his first time here, he wanted to help, and he lost something. But we found it. I am happy now. ”

Helpful, caring, respectful, kind, open hearted. These are just some of the words that describe my friends at the Dale and I am lucky to learn from such beautiful people.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

the art of giving.

we sat outside at our one picnic table even though it was so cold and cloudy that every time the sun peeked out we cheered loudly. as usual, there was lemonade and chips and grapes and a group of mismatched friends shooting the breeze. and then suddenly, “TJ” had a surprise.

almost as naturally as if he were breathing, TJ pulled some costume jewelry out of his pocket and started handing them out to the women present at the table. he had found some jewelry in his travels and wanted to give it to us. even though it was found, it was as if he had hand picked the pieces specially for us all.

there were colourful peacock feather earrings for joanna, long feather earrings for “Betty”, a cool triangle necklace for olivia, and simple yet sweet dangly earrings for me. we took our gifts as he handed them to us, put them on right away (even if we were unsure about how they would look) and excitedly complimented each other because actually, we looked amazing. TJ was pleased, and we left feeling lighter and prettier then when we arrived.

TJ is great at giving many things, and not just little trinkets. he is great at giving the gift of music to us all every week. he is great at giving people cards for special occasions. he is great at giving words of encouragement, a helping hand sorting cutlery, or a listening ear. at the dale, we believe that we all have something to give, no matter in what form or shape, and that it is also important for us to receive gifts from our community. this is what building relationships is all about – giving and receiving beautiful gifts such as love, care, support, and joy. our friends are great at giving, and i feel blessed to receive their gifts. i am thankful for TJ and his special way of making us all feel just a little more beautiful.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

a letter 2.0

dear me,

today marks one year at the dale for you! you did it! i am proud of you. i know there were days when you thought this anniversary would never come, you weren’t sure if you would make it. there were other days it was easier, and you walked forward towards this with confidence. hold both of those days as important. they got you here.

your community got you here as well and you wouldn’t have it done it without them. some days they really had to stand behind you and push. those words of encouragement, the checking in, the grace and mercy, the love and care. be grateful for your (not so new) community that is holding you lightly on the days you feel heavy. they love you and you love them. even when it’s hard.

those people in your community that believe in you and continue to believe in you, be glad for them. remember how they give you prayer, financial blessings, encouragement… you need to keep telling your story. don’t forget that.

continue to thank god for erinn and jo. this year has been filled with many things, heavy and light, that you walked through together. death, marriage, laughter, tears, hard conversations and easily made jokes. sometimes they all come in the span of an hour. continue to be glad for the bond you are making and that you can look around and see that they are there with you still.

i know you thought you would never be able to fit in here, but you are. when someone says you are family, when someone says they did a good job hiring you, when you get called the dale girls and people mean you too… you are continuing to crease and mold your space in this community. rest in that, but continue to take your time. you now know where the tables go and who sits where. you can sit with someone and be without looking for something to do and that is a huge step for you. those things that felt so foreign are more familiar now. rejoice in that.

there are so many memories, so many people, so much loss already, and so much joy. this will not suddenly become easy. but it will always be good. one year, four seasons, hundreds of new faces, two new teammates and best friends, hundreds of prayers, thousands of steps on queen street, and one whole new year in front of you. may you learn to love people better, may you find your voice when it feels quiet, may you continue to experience grace and mercy, may you make many more happy memories, and may you remember that this is kingdom work and His hands are yours – use them well.

love,

me.


It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!

no one likes a jerk.

While my coworkers are away this week, I had the pleasure of sitting in on our bible study on Tuesday night. Our community gathers on Tuesday evenings after a $1 meal at St. Francis Table and studies the Word. Lately, each week a new person offers to lead the group in discussion. This week we were studying 1 Peter 3:8-17, and there was a lot of great interpretation, debate, and conversation. The first verse we read from this portion was verse eight, which reads, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

Near the end of the bible study, as we prayed over the session, our friend who had offered to pray said, “and oh, God… let us be compassionate this week, because no one likes a jerk.” It was a simple and honest prayer. We all nodded amen.

As I have walked through the rest of this week, I have reflected on this specific verse. It’s true that no one likes a jerk. But before we point fingers at other jerks, (you know, the ones on the road who “can’t drive”, those people that cut in front of you in line) we also have to look at ourselves. Peter 3:10 continues, “For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” 

I have not been great at that this week, and it has turned me into a real jerk. With a variety of things going on in my life at the moment, some of which are stressful, angering, sad, and draining, I have let my tongue become evil. I have argued relentlessly with people I love and I’ve struggled with self-worth.

Peter talked about compassion, and having it for others. I also hope he meant we can have it for ourselves. On the days that I feel down and out, when anger is exploding from my mouth and when I feel like crawling under a rock, let me seek peace and pursue it. Let my tongue be kept from evil and let me turn toward the good. That is my prayer for this week, that I would have compassion for my friends and also for myself… because really, no one likes a jerk.

Peace to you this week, friends.

It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!