One Good Reason.

I try to keep up with this blog so that I post once a week, or so. The past couple weeks, I feel like I have been struggling with knowing what to write. This can happen sometimes, for various reasons, and I try to forgive myself for not coming out with a blog once a week. However, if the next week I’m still struggling, it gives me good reason to sit and reflect on how I’m feeling. I can think about what is causing the writing block, what feelings are maybe overwhelming me that I’m trying to put into words, or what some good things are that happened the past couple weeks. I value that this blog has become a space where I can be really vulnerable and honest, and that my words are met with love and care.

I guess in my reflection this week, my mind brought me back to a few days ago. Ian and I were having breakfast together one weekday morning. We have come to cherish this time together where we can eat a meal side by side, check in about how we feel, and pray together. This morning we had Spotify music on in the background and a Lady Gaga song happened to come on called, “One Million Reasons.”

There was one part that stood out to us, and the lyrics are like this:

“I bow down to pray
I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way
To cut through all his worn out leather
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay.”

If my memory serves me, Ian and I had been chatting about the heaviness we have been feeling about work and life in community. With all the deaths happening, memorials to attend, the heat of the summer beating down on our friends living outside, and the general awareness that our friends in community are experiencing heavy things, we felt really weighed down. Sometimes these jobs we have can feel hopeless. Ian works in a similar field of work that I do, and we both know a lot of the same folks having worked in the same places over the years. When people die all in a row, when people miss important appointments that you show up for, when people are caught between cracks in a system that is very broken… you start to feel like the point is lost. It feels like there are a hundred million reasons to walk away somedays.

However, the last line of the song ends in what feels like hope. Maybe we all just need one good reason to stay. One reason to stay where we are, to hold on a little longer, to hope for the best, to see the good. It can be hard to find somedays. But there are good moments amidst the heavy things that make our hearts feel lighter.

Ian helped house a couple people the past two weeks. This means there are a couple less people living in shelter or in unsafe spaces. He is advocating daily for people to to feel safe and cared for. It is hard work, and even the act of doing this advocating is a miracle in a system that is very broken. All people deserve love and care.

There are many good moments that happen at the Dale that make our hearts feel lighter. People are growing in their capacity to care for each other and practice their conflict resolution skills, for example. Others are practicing being sober, even if only for a day. That is a really hopeful thing. Some are working on cleaning to make their living situations better. They are learning to advocate for themselves and we get to walk alongside them in support. I am learning to find my voice, and say what I need. This comes through a lot of work around not trying to manage everyone’s emotions, knowing what I need, and being respectful to myself and others in that process. Good things are happening, although slow and steady, and they are all good reasons to stay.

Our friend made a beautiful sign for our team a while back, and I forgot to share it here. Now seems like a good time. He created an “office” sign for us in a corner of one little room we use as storage. The sign lists our names, and says, “Anyone need help, come to see one of us. We will help you all.” This person put a framed picture of Jesus next to the sign, and a little fake bouquet of flowers near by with a chair for us to sit down. English is not their first language, but you can see that they tried really hard to make us this sign that communicated that we are here to help. I am grateful for my friends at The Dale who care for us in such different ways, from asking us how we are to making us little office signs. We walk through a lot of hard things together, and do a lot of learning with one another. But they are the ones that also give me one good reason after another to stay. All I need is one good reason. They are mine, and that is enough.

Our sign, and Jesus.

Did you know that I fundraise my own salary at The Dale? Would you like to support me in my ministry here so I can keep working and increase my hours? You can do so by PAR, online donation, or cheque. Please contact meagan.gillard@gmail.com for more information.

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A Tough Year.

My friend Paul would often show up at Sanctuary in the clothes that he wore to work because that’s where he was coming from. That meant that they were covered in dirt and paint. I would poke fun at him by saying, “Paul, you have something on your shirt.” He would look down in shock before realizing I was talking about the paint smears on the front of his shirt that were permanently stained there. This joke never failed to amuse us.

The other day on the subway, I saw a guy in his work clothes. He was covered in paint smears. The first thing that came to my mind was the joke about him having something on his shirt. I immediately thought of Paul and my heart ached for my friendship with him. I miss him all the time.

It has been a tough year. I’ve heard this over and over from my colleagues and I know it to be true. Between The Dale and Sanctuary we have lost too many friends this year than I can count on one hand, maybe even two. It’s becoming hard to keep count, and that’s a bad thing. My colleagues are tired. My communities are grieving. We can barely stop missing one person before quickly losing another, often having two memorials simultaneously.

Please pray for us. Pray that we will find strength to miss people well. Pray that the loss will stop soon. Pray that people stop dying of living outside, from preventable deaths, and tragedy. Loosing friends to old age is hard enough, let alone to murder, overdose, cancer, lack of affordable housing.

I am sad. I am trying to remember my friends well and hold the heaviness and joy of the lives they lived and how much they are missed now that they’re gone. I don’t know exactly how to do this well but what I can do is try. I can pray for healing, I can cry, I can remember. And I know that this is really hard, for me and for my colleagues who came before me who have lost so many more. Please pray for their hearts. Let us help each other hold the weight.

I don’t know how to end this one, and I know it’s pretty heavy. I don’t write this for any kind of sympathy. I think part of me knew when I started writing that I needed to ask for prayer for us all at The Dale and Sanctuary. I never thought I would attend so many funerals or memorials in my lifetime. They never get easier. Hold us in your prayers as we go into next week – there are two memorials happening one day after another.

Peace to you, and peace to me. I’ll be praying. Please join me.