My (not so little anymore) brother, Matthew , came to spend some time with us at the Dale last week and this week. He is just finishing grade nine, and was very keen to get some of his required community service hours completed. So he asked if he could do some hours at The Dale and it all worked out for him to join us for a couple of weeks.
I must admit that I was a little nervous for him to come and be with us. I think I will always see Matthew as my five year old little bro, even though he is growing up and maturing into his own person. So to picture my little brother coming to drop-in with me, which can sometimes be a tense environment (even though also quite lovely), freaked me out. What if he saw someone yelling at me or upset? What if he saw something he wasn’t used to (which may as well be most things since we grew up in the suburbs of Brampton)? What if this that and the other thing? There could have been so many things that my mind made up that would make this a disaster for my brother. As per usual, my mind wondered to the worst instead of thinking of the best.
So now as I sit here reflecting on the time he was here with us, I can say that it was really beautiful. It was beautiful for me to witness, and hopefully beautiful for him to experience. Here are some highlights:
- We went for an outreach walk on Matthew’s first week, and stopped for quite a while to talk to our friend Tom*. Tom was laying out in the park in some shade and we talked to him a long time about books. Matthew discovered that he had the same taste in books as Tom, and they got to chatting about some classics that I haven’t even heard of. For the rest of the night, Matthew kept mentioning how glad he was to have met Tom.
- At our Tuesday drop-in, we had to move to the thrift store inside due to possible rain which means we sat at the back and brought out the Scrabble board. Matthew played with a few other of our community members and apparently it was his first time ever playing Scrabble!
- As we moved into his second week with us, people started to recognize my brother and would say, “Hey, Matthew!” and shake his hand.
- I think it was an adjustment for Matthew to learn that part of serving can actually be sitting and chatting with people, rather than always doing something with your hands. Our kitchen volunteers welcomed him with open arms on Monday to help in the kitchen and then I really encouraged him to sit down during the meal and after to talk with people. I know this is hard! But he did it, and it was a joy to look across the room to see my brother sitting and laughing with my friends.
- Half way through our drop-in in the park yesterday, I noticed that Matthew wasn’t beside me. After a brief moment of panic, I looked around and saw him sitting with his new friend, Scott*, chatting away. He asked me near the end of drop-in if we would see Scott again, and was so thrilled about their conversation. I had tears come to my eyes.
I am grateful that Matthew was willing to step out of his comfort zone and hang out with me this week. I feel blessed to have shown him what I do for my life’s calling and I hope this is an experience that he remembers as he gets older and can process community work in a different way, and all that comes with it. I am grateful for my community and their continued generous hospitality which they extended to my brother this week. It was a joy to have my little bro hang out with us. I am proud of him!
Peace to you this week! I pray that you are able to find joy in new experiences.
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