For the past year or so The Dale has been using a church on Cowan Ave in Parkdale as our home base. This church allows us to use space in the basement to store our belongings, prepare meals, and serve those meals to go on the sidewalk outside. We have bright yellow tape that is spaced out along the sidewalk from the church all the way down to the library at the corner (I know it’s hard for you to picture but it is quite a long way). This allows for visual markings so people remember to space out in line to get food. Our friends wait along Cowan to meet us at the front of the church where we stand under an arch with a table to space us out. From there we hand out our meals to go in bags on Monday and Thursdays. It is quite different from our pre-covid days of sitting together at a table and sharing a meal “family style” from a platter at the centre.
Now that we are a year into our covid days, most everyone is aware of the tape and respects it as a way to keep their neighbour safe. However, over the winter a lot of the tape came off due to the snow, ice, wind and just being walked on for 365 days. We had run out of tape for a while, so while most people respected the line as I mentioned, there was a lot of reminding from us along the way for people to remain apart and not clump. We are social beings after all! It was time for it to be replaced.
So today when Erinn brought new fresh yellow tape for us to line the sidewalk with, I got to work before we handed out breakfast replacing the lines previously taped down. There were already a few people outside waiting for us so I just worked around them, asking them to step back so I could tape at their feet. Everyone was helping me with the spacing, making sure the lines were not too close together and thanking me for replacing it to make sure everyone was safe.
Thursday morning breakfasts aren’t as busy as Monday lunch. People slowly drift along and pick up their breakfast, many not awake yet. So once I got past the 15 or so people waiting in line, I worked the rest of the way on my own looking and counting steps and placing tape to keep people apart. I stopped at the end near the library looking back at the yellow lines behind me. I felt on one hand like I had done something good, especially since I was thanked and encouraged along the way. We have to stay apart right now, whether we like it or not. And yet somehow I was sad. My hands were placing the tape that would keep people isolated. A bright yellow reminder that we cannot be together.
I have been feeling covid fatigue lately. For many of us, I think it comes in waves. Sometimes, I put my head down and get stuck in my new routine. Wash hands, wear a mask, don’t touch anything. If someone comes too close, step back. FaceTime Grandma Beulah, think about hugs, pray. And sometimes I remember that this is hard. I miss my family. I miss my coworkers faces. I miss sitting with my community for a meal. There are too many “I miss’s” to put here. And the reality is that we are all experiencing this together but in so many different ways. I know the way that covid is impacting my life looks so different from someone else’s. However, I think we all have valid reasons to feel that there are some days that just are hard.
I long for the day that when the yellow tape fades, we can let it be. I long for the day our meals will not be in bags. I long for the day we can do outreach and invite people to come visit us during drop in so we can talk longer, pray holding hands, and serve each other food.
There is no neat ending to this blog. I’m sure there could be a way that I could write it to invite hope. But sometimes we just need to hear each other in our heaviness. Right? It’s okay for things to be both heavy and light. We don’t know what the future holds. My hope rests in God’s promises, and I am grateful for His provision. AND – this is hard. May peace be yours this week, whatever that looks like.
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 email@example.com