As many of you know here at The Dale we refer to ourselves as a church without walls as we do not have a building of our own, and often partner with other buildings and organizations for space for our programming. However, lately on Sundays we have LITERALLY become a church without walls. Since the health restrictions have started to lift we have been able to gather outside for church in the parking lot of our space here at 201 Cowan Ave. We use a large green roofed tent for shade. Each Sunday we take it out of it’s shed and the four of us put it up in what has become a very quick and seamless routine. We collect chairs from downstairs and carry them all out to assemble under the tent without walls which allows for a cross breeze. We space the chairs out and we set up our communion in a portable cake tray that has a lid, our wicker offering basket, and sanitizer/masks. And we wait. Each week 10-15 of our friends come to worship with us, and we praise how grateful we are for the opportunity to see each other again.
Because my hours are still part time, I end up only being around for church every third week or so. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. Ian and Charlotte have been able to come and pick me up after the service is over and it has been the greatest gifts to watch Charlotte interact with the community before we all go our separate ways. Yesterday she was happy as a clam to walk up to people, wave, smile and laugh and run around like she owned the place. Everyone was so happy to see her.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, my dreams of having Charlotte grow up at The Dale from when she was an infant were shattered. We kept her inside, sheltered from the virus and safe at home. This meant that she did not see my friends at The Dale, or even my co-workers nearly as much as I had hoped. Having her be able to come around on Sunday’s has been so special to me. Ian and I have been trying to “integrate” Charlotte into society (which is so weird to think about, and has been a journey in and of itself) and having Charlotte visit The Dale has been one thing I have been so excited about.
Yesterday as I watched her walk up to each community member and wave at them while placing her little hands on their knees as they sat, my eyes welled with tears. After a hard year of lockdowns and staying home, not gathering and being so isolated in motherhood I am grateful now for many things – vaccines to keep us safe and allow for more gathering, the love of community who cares so much for my kid who they’ve hardly met but have held faithfully in prayer, the innocence of a child who is so curious to see and meet each person even though most of her life’s interactions have been through FaceTime, and a community that allows each person to come as they are (even my sweet, curious, sometimes loud toddler!).
May this be the start of new adventures for little Charlotte!
I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Toronto! In order to do this work I invite others to walk alongside me in financial partnership as I fundraises for my salary. If you would like to make a monthly or one time contribution towards my salary as I continue my ministry in Parkdale, please get in touch via email at email@example.com!