Far from the Front Lines.

I’ve tried to write this blog a handful of times and the words just aren’t coming so easily. What do you say at a time like this? At a time that none of us have been through before? At a time when so much is unknown. It wasn’t until I was in the shower tonight that I let my emotions start to fall like the water around me and I thought – just go back to the basics. Just tell them how you feel. So here it is.

The truth is, I haven’t felt this far from the front line, ever. I have been walking alongside people in community work and social care since my school days at Ryerson – about 7 years. During this time, I have walked alongside folks experiencing homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues. I have been a food preparer, dish washer, pet sitter, patient visitor, fight breaker-upper, talk someone down-er, prayer, listener, lesson learner, court day supporter, and much more. Now I spend a lot of my days at home with Charlotte, my baby girl. While this is an important job too, that of being a mom (which tasks I won’t list because they involve butt-wiper, etc), this is not the work I am accustomed to. I mean in some ways it is… and in a lot of ways I just miss my job, my team, my people, my work.

I think there is a lot to say in all of this that I am still processing and thinking about and trying to feel. Every time I talk to my people about this I get the same response over and over: It’s complicated, messy, hard. There is no right way to go about all this motherhood/work life balance thing. Right now, I just miss my life. Plain as that. And I feel really weird saying that right now to be honest, because I think it is made all the more messy knowing that some of my friends and colleagues, and even my husband, are still out there in this pandemic fighting. They’re fighting for justice and safety and community and connection for my friends on, or close to the street who are continually pushed aside and ignored. And it’s hard to be here while they are there. Because I wish it could be both ways.

There are moments that came to be in the shower tonight like my life was flashing before my eyes or something. All are moments from my work at The Dale that I hold really close to my heart. That time that Cindy* invited us into her new apartment to pray over it (and meet her cat that she tells me every. single. time I see her that she named Meghan Markle). That time I was pregnant and every time Toby* saw me he rubbed his belly and said, “Did you have a big breakfast too” even though he knew full well I was pregnant and was mostly making fun of himself. That time that my brother sat with Tim* in the grass on outreach and talked about classic books. That time that we pet-sat Samantha’s* dog and 8 cats for months while she was in the hospital. There are a hundred more.

These are the moments I miss so dearly being away from my work and my friends and my people. And these are the moments that we MUST not lose to this virus. We need to keep going, in any way we can, so that our friends can hold onto hope and connection and community and love and joy. And so that we can hold onto these things as well. Where do you isolate when you live outside? How do you panic buy when you live less then cheque to cheque? How do you hold onto community when drop-in after drop-in and coffee shop after coffee shop are shutting down? How do you stay healthy when you live head to head in a shelter? I really don’t have all the answers.

What I do know is that my colleagues at The Dale are trying so hard right now. They are trying so hard to stay visible in Parkdale while people retreat inside, in a way that is safe, intentional, thoughtful and loving. Working without our own building has taught us a lot about resilience and staying quick on our feet, but I don’t know what this ultimate test is supposed to teach us right now. Buildings that we used to parter with are shutting their doors. We are losing space and being pushed further and further outside. We need your help.

The Dale is going to continue to meet for as long as possible in whatever way is possible and safe. We have a lot of vulnerable people in our community and in our lives and their safety is most important. The Dale is meeting outside our usual “spots” right now and staying a safe distance apart physically while trying to remain close in heart. I say “we” but I really need to hand it to Erinn, Jo, Pete and Olivia. They are heroes to me.

I am asking for your help. This is what I can do from home with a baby in one hand and a lot of hope in the other. Can you pray for my team and my community? Can you pray for safety and strength in this unknown time? I know they could really use it. I know this is a time of scarcity for a lot of people so if you have extra to give, would you consider donating to The Dale? There are a lot of things they could use, but as with the times, I’m sure that list is changing by the day. You can read some of what is needed in Erinn’s blog post here (the list of needed items can be found at the bottom of the post if you are short on time, although I encourage you to read the whole thing!). Money is such a support at a time like this – a time where our donations of food are far between since we don’t have a place to receive them, where our kitchens are closing and we aren’t sure what is next… money would help obtain whatever supplies are needed to keep food, sanitary items, and any necessities coming. Any help would be so appreciated. Please visit https://www.thedale.org/donate/.

Peace to you in these times of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. I know I always say it but I really do mean it. May you find a peace that passes all understanding.

Love, Meg.

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