When Life Hands You Bird Crap.

Last week we were doing outreach, as we usually do midweek. You can often find us walking or driving along Queen Street through Parkdale checking in with our friends outside. We bring water, snacks, toiletries, or sometimes just ourselves and look forward to connecting with folks in a setting outside the bounds of our drop-in or to-go meals. Last week was a week not that different from usual. We set off with stuff in hand and walked through the heat. We were nearing our last check-in spot on our usual route when the unfortunate happened.

I was standing outside a convenience store talking to our friend Robert when I felt and heard a splatter on my head and arm and the sidewalk beside me. It was not raining, so I knew instantly what the culprit was… a bird had relieved itself above me in such a way that I got the leftover splat from it’s bottom. It was green and wet and landed mostly on the sidewalk but also on me.

I was in shock. I just held my arm out and patted my head and looked at the floor as people came to my rescue. Jo and Olivia started checking me all over to see the damage. A stranger walked by and saw the events, handing me a napkin and assuring me of it’s cleanliness. Our friend Robert starting searching through his bag for another napkin. Olivia and Joanna took them and starting cleaning me off where the poo had reached me. Everyone assured me how lucky I was (if we were standing in a country where bird shart can be seen as lucky).All I could do was stand there in my shock and hope the colour would soon drain from my cheeks.

As unlucky as I felt, I still found myself thinking of a silver lining. I had community. People didn’t laugh and point and say “Sucks to be you!” They came quickly with napkins and hopeful words and patting of hair. It was a simple thing, but it reminded me of the bigger picture of this life of work I am blessed to be called to do. There is hope and napkins to be had in the village you surround yourself with. I am so grateful for my friends who helped that day, and for the way we could share the story on the rest of our walk and find laughter in the midst of a hot poop filled day.

This isn’t the first time I have been handed napkins in a tough situation. And surely it will not be the last. Whether it be napkins, a prayer, a coffee, a check in, a gift of service, love, thoughts, or a walk – I am glad to have my life enriched by this Dale community. What a beautiful gift.

With peace in days that may have a little extra poop. I hope you get handed a napkin drenched in love.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this ministry I must fundraise for my salary. I invite you to partner with me prayerfully or financially! Please email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com to talk more about what this looks like!

Like a Sunflower.

The sunflower is my favourite flower of all time. I am wooed by the way they stand up tall and grow wide and big. They shine bright for all to see and add colour to the world. Everywhere I go I look for them, and smile when I find one. Last summer my mom gave me sunflower seeds to add to my garden. Not having the capacity to plant them with a young baby in a Pandemic, I left them be.

This year when getting my garden ready in the Spring, I found the box of seeds and decided to try to plant them even though I definitely had not stored them properly. My expectations were low, but I carefully and diligently planted them and monitored them. Slowly they grew and I moved them from a container into the earth. Out of a handful planted, only a few survived and I tended those four in my backyard, hoping for the best.

I’ll tell you what happened… they grew. Slowly but surely those sunflowers grew taller still, reaching up toward the sun. Since early Spring for what feels like forever I have watched and watered day by day, tending to their needs. But the mind is a funny thing. Even though I planted those seeds and watched them grow slowly I am comparing them to many others I see in my neighbourhood. They are in the sun, they are fertilized, they are watered… but they are slow to bloom. And I wonder what is wrong with my efforts.

But that’s the thing, right? Everyone and everything grows at it’s own pace. My sunflowers may not be as tall or as bright just yet but I have kept them alive. They are finally starting to bloom and I know in the heat a bright flower will soon emerge. They have taken their time, and I have gotten the chance to watch them all Summer long. What a beautiful gift.

My journey at The Dale is Like a Sunflower. I was planted from seed in perfect conditions, called by God into Parkdale to do this work. I was meant to grow here. I have been tended to and cared for by my team, our board, and my community. I have been slow to grow, I think, taking my time to learn each person, our routine, and my place here. But slowly and surely my beauty (which was there from the start) has emerged more and I am confident here now and in my place. I know I am growing because I can feel it, and I am proud to have watched my journey from the start. I have been fertilized by encouragements, experiences, and motherhood which has made me stronger. I am an emerging flower. It feels so sweet.

My place at The Dale is such a gift to me and I love being here so much. I love growing here and am so glad I was planted by God in Parkdale. Yesterday, I posted this on Facebook but I thought I would share it here again incase it was missed:

“If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I have worked at The Dale Ministries for four years now. Around this corner of my Facebook world I can often be known to share my blogs which I use to share stories from my community and ministry. They have been shared by many of you, and read far and wide. Together we journey along at The Dale, each member bringing a gift. Whether you pray for me, read those blogs I write, share them with a friend, or think of me in my work – you bless this ministry abundantly. I know reading my blogs has caused many of you to get to know my work at The Dale as I share about our lives together in Parkdale. Recently, I have had the opportunity to increase my time spent working at The Dale. I have been able to increase my hours to 22/week (and my pay) to be able to provide for my family. Here at The Dale, we fundraise every cent we have. That also includes our salary! Many of you have come alongside me in my work and have given financially to this ministry in Parkdale. I know it is because you see that God is calling us together in community. I am grateful for that.With increased time at The Dale, it means increased fundraising efforts. I am here humbly now, asking for you to join my community of supporters. If you are financially able to walk alongside me in my work I invite you to reach out to me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com. I would love to have a conversation about what it would mean to partner with me. Most practically, this would look like a monthly contribution in order for my income to be stable over a longer period of time. I need to raise about $630/month in order to continue my increased time at The Dale every week! Simply, that would look like a large handful of people donating $20/month.There are many other ways you can support my work. By partnering with me in prayer over my work and family, by continuing to read my blogs, and by asking to receive my seasonal newsletter in which I keep my family of supporters more up to date on what life at The Dale as looked like for the past number of months.”

Thank you for reading these blogs and walking with me here at The Dale. Thank you for tending to my spirit and watching me grow. I think I am blooming in part because of YOU. I am grateful.

With much peace as we grow together,