I was standing in the large open room where we host our Monday community meal, chatting with someone at a table. Suddenly, like an animal in the wild, my ears perked up. A loud voice was nearby, and with that came a red flag. It didn’t sound like loud talking, it sounded like an argument. I excused myself from the conversation, but not in time to catch the argument before it began. There was commotion over a seat, a common blimp in our space as our friends pile in close to lunch to eat a home cooked meal with us. He was yelling at her, and she was sitting down – refusing to move her coat from an empty seat beside her. So I put my hand on his shoulder lightly to attract his attention to me, as speaking to him was getting me nowhere.
Big. Mistake. Lesson One – do not touch someone when they’re worked up. It probably won’t go over too well! I can admit that was a mistake on my end. His anger turned to me… “Don’t put your hands on me again or….” I’ll save you the threats and expletives. My hands went up in the air as I tried to backtrack and apologize at the same time. It didn’t work. After some more yelling and threats, our friend was asked to leave for the day – a way to let someone cool off outside our space, and let them know that what they did made the space unsafe.
I don’t tell you all this to paint our friend in any kind of bad light. He was denied an empty seat, something that I should have tried to rectify in another way. And I got in his personal space while he was fired up, a big mistake on my end. I tell you all this to paint a picture of a time I was threatened more than I ever have been. Luckily I know our friend enough to know that he would NEVER ever really hurt me. But to be spoken to in that way is a little jarring. I tell you this because for a long time after that incident, our friend wouldn’t speak to me, even after my half-hearted smiles in his direction, trying to close some kind of gap that had formed between us.
I should know by now that these things take time. Sometimes people need room. They need space to process, time to forgive, and opportunity to come back when they’re ready. For me and my friend, it happened on the day we were having our Epiphany party ironically enough. I was bundled up and walking through the cold wind that often forms in a tunnel on Queen Street. Walking quickly past all the usual spots, I saw our friends precariously placed through Parkdale going about their usual business. When I was approaching the LCBO, I noticed my friend standing outside the doors. I was nervous. This was the first time since the incident that I had seen him alone in the world, not with Jo or Erinn as a buffer. I looked at him and tried to smile as I said a quick hello. He made eye contact and just as I was passing, he said, “Hey, I need to talk to you.”
I stopped and turned around, my heartbeat quickening. “Sure, what’s up?” He said he had been meaning to talk to me for a while, and that since the incident he’s felt really weird coming into the space. I nodded, a signal that I too had felt the same. He opened his arms wide, a hug waiting for me – a peace offering. I hugged him back and he said, “You know I love you, right?” I said “I know, and I’m sorry about what happened. I never meant to hurt you.” An apology wrapped in a hug, and the truth. We parted ways after some back and forth and I walked the rest of the way to where Erinn and Jo waited for me, shivers running down my arms that had nothing to do with the cold.
I was amazed yet again by God’s grace, for me and my friend, and for our relationship. We needed time apart, and we needed an opportunity to come back together. We needed the love of the Creator, binding us together after harshness tried to rip us apart. I am in awe of the hearts of our friends, coming back time and time again when it would be easier to remain hard and angry. I am grateful for the love at The Dale, and the opportunity we get to walk alongside our friends everyday, learning new ways to love. If you are waiting for peace today, may you be encouraged that His timing is perfect, and that you are not forgotten.
It would mean so much to me if you were able to partner financially with The Dale to support my role within this ministry. There are a number of ways to do this, including CanadaHelps, PAR, or cheque. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on partnering with me in this way. Thanks for your support!