My phone dinged at 8:58. “Getting in the car! Be there soon!” The sound of a message coming through from my friend and co-worker, Olivia. She was on her way to pick me up so we could head to work together. As we drove, sounds of chatter filled the air of the car. We had not seen each other in a few days, so there was catching up to do.
We entered the office, our feet echoing off the floor and walls of the empty building so early in the morning. Settling into the office as a staff, we started check in – this is how we begin each week. There was laughter, hmmm and ahhhs as we heard about each others week. The week had been heavy for each of us in our own ways. The vibrations of our phones could be heard against the desks… community members calling to check in or tell us something. This is not unusual for a Monday morning. We move to put them all on silent, as we pause to pray before the day gets going. Silence then and deep breaths. We take a few seconds before we pray in succession. Sniffles, tears, laughter, and amen. We begin the day.
The sounds become louder then. We enter the kitchen where we prepare our meals to hand out for lunch. The oven fan is always the loudest, as the fan pushing hot air work hard to heat our food. Theres grinding of beans being broken down for coffee. Plastic bags being opened, their rustling filling the room. This all takes time, each of us doing our own jobs. Closer to 11, I can hear washing and chopping. Joanna and Olivia are preparing a pasta salad for the vegetarian folks in line. We talk as we go, more checking in and laughter. We use this time to talk about a TV show we want the other to watch, music we’ve heard that we are recommending, a funny thing that happened in our family lives, or how community members are doing. It feels familiar, like family, these sounds I hear. They are similar each week and I have come to find comfort in that.
We serve lunch to-go outside at 1pm under the archway outside the church on Cowan Ave. Even though we have moved outside where the sounds are louder, there is familiarity here too. Cars slowly drive by, watching us on their way and wondering what the line is for surely. A mystery man who works at a bakery honks at us as he parks in front of the church – a signal that we can open his back door and get a bag of leftover bread he donates to us. There are hello’s too as we greet people in line while we bring the food out. “Here, give me that table,” Steven offers to me, even though his aged hands are shaking. I accept his help even though I can carry the table because it is important to allow people to show their love by giving their time and effort. “Mama Meagan!” shouts Sue. She always has something to tell us. We hustle to get ready, making sure people aren’t waiting much longer in the mid-November chill of the day. Feet shuffle, the creaking cart squeals under the weight of the food, and our breathe becomes heavier with this physical work. It is nice to chat with people in line and see how their weeks went. People are often the same as they always are, leaving us with the same expressions. Our friend Bill does the sign of the cross up to the Heavens towards the church and leaves with the expression, “Thank you! Bless you. Every day’s a holiday.” Hearing his optimism helps me with mine.
Sometimes the sounds of the day become muffled week after week. We are busy, especially in this end of year season, and it is easy for the sounds to become muted or ignored as we rush around. But it was a joy this day to pay attention and listen, not just hear. I love these sounds that have becomes signals of family, safety, and love. I appreciate our routine. I find peace in the chatter. I like the familiar. I am grateful for this community and all the noise it holds. It is love to me.
I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale, and I love using this blog to share our weeks and my work with you. My entire salary has to be fundraised in order to continue to work here. If you would like to participate by supporting me financially, please visit thedale.org/donate and indicate that your gift is for me. Thank you for being part of this journey.