I have never witnessed tears as free flowing and unapologetic in my life then at my time at The Dale. This community has taught me that tears from happiness or sadness are nothing to be ashamed of, and that vulnerability is such a gift that can be shared with those you love, rather than something to apologize for. During our church services on Sunday, we have a time of community prayer. This is a time where we can say things that we are grateful for or share prayer requests, and then have a few people lift them up in prayer. There is also no pressure to do so, and we acknowledge that God hears our quiet prayers and reflections as well. I have been given the opportunity to be present to such honest, loving, hard, laugh provoking, sad, angry, joyful prayers during my time here. These ten minutes have become so precious.
In the past couple of months especially, there have been multiple instances where a community member cries during prayer time. They have wept over such things as struggles with the immobility of their body, over children who have become estranged, and transitions that are difficult. These are such raw, personal, tender hearted, and vulnerable things to share with anyone – sometimes even those you love. They have cried openly and asked for prayer that they need, not apologizing for their sorrows. And the reaction from others in the community has been filled with love. As one community member prayed, “We are a group that laughs together and cries together.” We trust that the Lord hears our prayers and holds our tears and knows what it is like to weep, as Erinn preached this Sunday.
I continue to feel grateful. When I first started working at The Dale, it was hard for me to be open with my team and with my community. But through lots of practice, teaching, witnessing, and trust I have learned that there are people who actually want to know how you are when they ask you. That there are people that are open to your vulnerabilities and will hold them with you, as they know you will hold theirs. That this is a community that gives and receives a lot of things, but especially prayer for and with each other. And I have learned that sadness is okay, and that it can be held in one hand with joy in the other.
I hope that you know that your prayerful tears and laughter are welcome here. And I hope you have people close to you like I do who you can give and receive vulnerability with. It is such a beautiful gift, and I am grateful for this community and the way that they give it so freely.
Peace to you.
I am a Community Worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this work, I must fundraise for my entire salary! If you have the means to be a financial supporter, please visit thedale.org/donate. Thank you!