A Letter 3.0

As I was coming up on my Dale-aversary this year, one of the first things that came to mind was my blog and this tradition that I kind of stumbled into doing – that is writing myself a letter every year that I’ve been at the Dale. The first letter of course was more of an encouragement to myself at a time of inner turmoil, a time of intense change, and a time of new beginnings. The second letter was different in that it was more of an, “I did it!” letter, acknowledging that I had made it through the years ups and downs. I could not believe that it was time again to write another letter to myself, marking a full year that has come and gone again. So hey, this is as much to you all as it is to me. Thanks for visiting me here and reading my thoughts, hopes, laments, and all in between. Thanks for the support – prayerfully, financially, friendship-ly 🙂 and otherwise. You are so appreciated.


Dear Me,

Happy Two Years at the Dale! It seems like time is surely flying by now. So much so that you thought it was your three year anniversary instead of two! I have to say that writing this letter feels lighter this year, and more confident. That does not mean that things are always great for you, but I think it means you are learning how to hold things in a new way – a way that allows for more grace for yourself.

A year is a long time. You have had some time now to really dive deeper. You are learning about people, and them about you. I am really proud of you. This relational work is never finished, but you are taking the time. You do not always flinch at the sound of a yell if you know the voice, as it seems easier to walk over and calm it. That takes a lot of knowing in many ways. Knowing that things will be alright, knowing that it’s okay to be afraid but that God walks with you literally in all things, knowing the voices of your friends, and knowing that they are full of the same feelings you have and that you are capable of learning from and helping each other.

I think this year is the year you learn that you are you – a Meagan like no other. You have your own gifts, hardships, love to give, voice to speak with, time to give. You are on a team of powerful, strong, loving women and you each bring something to the table that is different, and that is a good thing. That it is okay if you aren’t walking the same pace as everyone else – sometimes it feels like you are moving very slowly. But that is movement and it is your own. Remember to keep trying new things! You can do hard things!

This year was hard like the others but in it’s own way. There were times you doubted yourself, your abilities, how fast you were fundraising. Be grateful for your team. They have been there for you through the many things this job and this life have tossed your way. Be thankful for their encouragement and support, the way they see things in you that you don’t see, the way they listen and love. There are no two others like Erinn and Jo.

Be thankful for your community! People are trusting you. You are learning to speak to them in new ways. You are learning respect and love for each other. That takes time and effort on both parts. Remember the hard times with people and the mud it seemed you had to walk through, and remember the good times. There were celebrations and mourning, joy and sorrow, life and death, and a variety of in-betweens. They care for you as you care for them – be glad.

Thank you, God for this new year. Thank you for the year gone by. Thank you for teaching me new things about myself. Thank you for my Dale friends who love fiercely. Thank you for Erinn and Jo, my team. Thank you for walking with me and showing me the way.

And thank you, friends and support network for praying for me, blessing me, caring for me, and walking this journey with me.

Here’s to another year at The Dale! May we continue to learn together.

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!

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That Was Paul.

I never believed that Paul Sterns would die.

Paul was a friend of mine, a member of the Sanctuary community that I belong to. Paul was very open about his journey and his health, and I was blessed to know him and his story. He had cancer that was diagnosed a number of years ago. He sought treatment and for a time it was mostly successful until recently when the cancer came back with a vengeance, attacking his physical heart. Paul died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of April 6th, days after his birthday.

His illness is only a sliver of his story, but in a way it was what brought us together. When I was working at Sanctuary a couple of years ago, I came to know Paul. I don’t remember our first conversation, or how it all began. All I know was that suddenly Paul was my friend. I think it was like that for many people he knew. I say his illness brought us together because I got to know Paul by our visits in the hospital while he was getting his chemo. I would arrive usually early, before work, and we would chat while he got his blood work done, waited for the nurse to put the IV in, waited for the chemo to be hooked up, and while it was streaming into his body, trying to undo the cancer that was slowly killing him. I would sit for however long I had, usually with a few others that came around to visit (he was popular), and leave him there to eventually get to work. Paul was always grateful, whether I only had 5 minutes or whether I had two hours. Most recently, Paul would refer to me as the daughter he never had (and never wanted *chuckle*). I know there were many of us at Sanctuary who he lovingly thought of us daughters – as family. I was honored.

Paul.

The hardest part of a memorial for me is walking in. I am struck by the finality of what is about to happen. I walked into Paul’s memorial on Monday not believing that it had come. Paul was given a couple of weeks to live a few days before he died. To say that timeline was off was an understatement. He died two days later. I am so grateful that I made it home from my trip to visit him one last time on Friday. He died the next morning. To be honest, I don’t remember what I said to Paul. I remember joking with him as always. I remember there being a few of us there with him. I remember him talking about his death. And I really don’t think I said goodbye – a real goodbye. I didn’t think that would be the last time I ever saw my friend Paul on this earth. I hope he knows that when I said, “See you later” hoping that it would be Sunday, that it would translate to more of a metaphorical see you later.  I can’t wait to see Paul again one day.

Paul’s memorial was filled with his friends and family. People shared stories of his life, his journey (the good and the hard), funny memories, and things that he did along the way. I was struck by how many of these stories ended with, “and that was Paul.” That was Paul indeed. He was funny, charming, kind, generous, inappropriate, rude, endearing, smart, weird, talented, hardworking, and a hundred other things. He was a good friend. Our pastor Greg said that when he visited Paul the day before he died, he asked if he could pray for Paul. He did, and then Paul ended up praying too which he hardly ever did, at least out loud. But he prayed to God, and he prayed for all of us. He didn’t pray for himself and his body that was slowly letting go. He didn’t pray that he would go peacefully. He prayed for his friends and family. He prayed for each one of us. That was Paul.

I don’t know if I will ever believe that Paul is dead. I see him already in strangers, which often happens when a friend from my community passes away. I see glimpses of him and know he’s around. I know he’s not in pain, and I know I will see him again one day. But that doesn’t make it easy. I long to sit once more with Paul. I long to hear one more joke, tell one more story, see one more sheepish smile. I will miss Paul for a long time.

There are a hundred things I want to say. A hundred more stories and a hundred more wishes. When I helped carry Paul’s body out of the building on Monday with a group of his closest lady friends (which is exactly what he wanted), I felt honored to be a part of his journey – his journey in this life and his journey to get him Home. I was honored to have known Paul for the short time I did. I was honored to call him my friend. He will be deeply missed. That was Paul.