Thursday was my first day back in Parkdale at work in about a year. I didn’t feel the urge to cry until I sat in the car with Ian and watched as Charlotte waved to me from our front door in my moms capable and loving arms. I was grateful to many people on Thursday, but especially to a friend and one of our community partners who dropped in to what is now The Dale HQ and asked how I was doing. When I told her I was teary all morning she said she’s not sure when it ever ends (she has three kiddos herself) and said she wanted to hold that space for me. I am grateful for friends who see and know.
A lot has changed about the way we do programming these days. As we handed out breakfast meals that morning I got to chat with people in line from under my mask and was so aware that half my face was missing from the equation. I already miss seeing people smile, and was trying to practice keeping my eyes smiling on the bus ride home.
I met a man that day whose name already escapes me. He has started coming to The Dale since my departure, and his words struck me. After our introduction from Joanna, he said it was nice to meet me and then, “Welcome Home” as he shrugged. I was taken aback after writing something very similar in a blog last week before my return to work. He shrugged as if that was naturally the only thing he could say to someone in this situation – welcome home. I’m not sure, but I’ve been thinking about it all weekend since and I think God put those words on his tongue for me to receive that day.
Home. I looked up the definition of home last night as I couldn’t get this out of my head. Upon searching I found what I knew to be true in the basic sense. That home is a place of residence, a place of origin, where one lives… etc. It’s actually funny that someone may describe The Dale as home in THAT sense since we tend to move around so much. Our stuff basically moves from one place to the other on constant rotation and us along with it. Nomads with a schedule, that’s what we are.
I think to get to the root of the feeling I had, I had to search for something else. Not just home, but AT HOME. To be at home. Relaxed and comfortable, at ease, in harmony with the surroundings, and this – on familiar ground. Our feet have walked up and down Parkdale countless times. We know the streets, and each other. To be at home is not just to be at a certain place. It means to FEEL at home – to feel comfortable and at ease. As a community we can move around each other with a certain familiarity. We know each other by name, we have inside jokes, we know what people like and don’t and we are always learning and growing as a unit. We feel like we are on familiar ground. And that is what I think of when I come back to The Dale.
Welcome Home. I know when I show up to work our stuff may be here and there. I know we are always on the move. I know we don’t have a place to call our own, but many places indeed that carry pieces of our hearts. Lots of buildings and rooms have held our tears and our laughter. But more so my community is home. A place of familiarity. A place I can be myself. A place I can come and show up and give and receive. A place that I am seen and known. A place that is always and forever changing but somehow still remains familiar ground.
Peace to you this week in an ever changing world. May you find your familiar ground.
I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org