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.
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!