Things look a lot different at The Dale these days. All of our efforts to connect with community are done outside. We wear N95 masks for the entirety of our shift – we pray, smile, cry, and hope under those masks now. All of our meals are given outdoors and taken to-go… we can no longer gather around a table. I knew that when I got back to work mid October that I would have some processing catching up to do in terms of how different life at work would be. I think for the most part that processing is still happening in chunks. Last night I was able to do some reflecting on life at work with Ian and it was good to talk to him (and my team) who understand so many intimate details of what this new life is like for us.
There are so many things I long to communicate but I am still searching around for the words, often unable to describe the then and now and the contrast between time before and present time. There are so many polarities. So many gifts in this new COVID season of new connections and constant provision, and so much taken. I often write on this blog about holding hands with grief and joy. This is one of those times.
A couple weeks ago, Erinn gave a message at our Sunday service and she talked about “thin places”. To describe it is like trying to describe a feeling. It is those times when we are firmly planted on earth and yet somehow a veil lifts and we catch a glimpse of heaven and feel God so close to us. When a child is born, when we witness family reuniting, when we can be close to someone in their weeping. I feel like before at The Dale, there were so many opportunities for thin moments and I wish I had been more keenly aware. Sometimes it can feel like thin moments are lost on me these days.
Yesterday as a team at our check-in time we discussed the notion of how in many things in life and especially at The Dale, we can often do something but we can’t do everything. There are so many instances where I want to do everything. I want to give someone exactly what they were hoping we would hand out for lunch. I want to get all the work done that we have on our constantly flowing to-do list. I want to put a bandaid over the heart wounds of my friends that sometimes spill out too easily. I want to put a bandaid over my heart wounds too.
But if I have learned anything over my years in this work it is that I am not a saviour, I can’t fix it all, and I sure can’t do everything. I can give the food I have to give and be a safe and dignifying space for our community. I can participate in the work we have to do and be a good team member. I can sit with my friends and help them hold the heavy things of our lives. These are the some things I can do. I look to God to help with the rest.
This blog feels like a breath being held to me. I am sorry if you feel that too. I didn’t really know where I was going when I started and I am not sure that I know where I am going with this now. I think writing helps get some of the stuff out… so thanks for sitting here with me in this space. I would ask you to pray as we enter into winter. The cold air is coming and it makes it mighty difficult to be working outside. Our friends are weary. We are worried about the future. We are trying to catch and hold joy and gifts and thin places but it is hard when grief pulls the other hand. I hope you can understand.
With peace to you, and hope that I can witness more thin places. I know they are still there. In a season that is supposed to be met with joy, hope, peace, and love. I pray… and I thank you for yours.
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