My Hands Brought Isolation.

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.

Six feet apart.

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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Feeding the Multitude.

Many of us who went to Sunday school know of the stories in the Bible where Jesus fed multitudes of people with only a handful of fishes and loaves of bread. These stories were examples of miracles, where all the glory could be given to God for the way he makes a way for His people to be provided for. No one was left out or left behind. Everyone was fed. This saying, “loaves and fishes” has been on my heart a lot lately. It’s either been repeated in my head or spoken out loud by someone, and I am reminded again and again that my God is truly one of miracles.

Last week on Sunday there was a mix up with our Second Harvest delivery and we ended up 100 meals short of the 100 meals we normally get to give out to our community for lunch on Monday. If you got your math right, that means we had 0 meals to give. So we got our thinking caps on that Monday morning and got to work. We put any and all food together that we could find in our freezers and fridges and tried with all our might to make a dignifying, satisfying, satiating meal to go. It was A LOT more work, a lot more time, and a lot more of a scramble (we are so thankful for Second Harvest, the meals they provide us usually each week, and for all the volunteers we had pre-pandemic that made kitchen work possible).

At the end of our morning prep time, Erinn and I were putting ladles of soup into cups to give out in line. We were mixing and pouring, adding soup here and there, readjusting, adding some water to the pot… anything to get just a couple more cups. In the midst of me handing her cups and her trying to make them fuller she looked over at me and said, “Fishes and loaves.” Well thanks be to God, there was enough soup for everyone in line that day… and a little extra left over. That never fails to boggle my mind. We had enough to give everyone and more, when we thought we would not have enough. What a miracle of God’s provision.

In another instance, last week as both my coworkers Jo and Olivia have written about, we had a boot fitting clinic outside our HQ at a church on Cowan Ave. The Meeting House Toronto has generously partnered with us over the past number of years. They had $2,000 to buy brand new boots for our community and came equipped last Sunday with the boots, sanitizer, PPE, shoe fitting devices, and a happy attitude. This day was nothing short of a kingdom kind of beautiful. It’s the story of a community so loved by God that each member who showed up miraculously got a pair of boots when we thought there wouldn’t be enough. You see, the number of boots sitting on the tables ready to give out seemed like way less the amount we needed for the feet waiting in a line that spanned all the way down the road. But somehow… somehow it all worked. For the three or so people who did not receive boots that day, there are funds for those people to be fitted with what they need. A dignifying, graceful, beautiful, left us in tears kind of day. Enough feet to fill boots, enough sizes of boots, enough patience in line, enough Grace. Fishes and loaves.

New boots ready to find their feet!

These kinds of things happen to us often, I have come to realize. They happen in big ways like the two stories told above and in seemingly smaller but no less important ways too. When there’s enough forgiveness to reconcile a heated argument, enough strength to get through each day, enough understanding when someone is different than you. All things miraculously provided by God when it seems there just wouldn’t be enough.

Working at The Dale means I have seen miracles happen before my eyes. Fishes and loaves have fed the multitudes. It never stops being awe inspiring, tear jerking, glory to God giving. As Jo put it on her blog, we don’t know why some things don’t happen just the way we want even if we pray as hard as we can, and we may never know. But I do know that I believe in the miracles that do happen just a little more these days. I hope you find some of your own this week.

With peace.


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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

A Unique Shrove Tuesday

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent. As per tradition, we partook in pancakes which symbolizes an indulgence before marking the start of Lent, in which Jesus retreated to the desert and fasted for 40 days before his execution. Depending on your religious beliefs, you may have heard of Lent before, or participated before by giving up something just as Jesus fasted. Growing up, I was certainly aware of Lent happening but did not really participate fully. I heard of friends or family giving up something such as chocolate or sweets not really understanding the deeper meaning behind the sacrifice.

I am so grateful to work at the Dale and be welcomed into participating in different seasons. I am learning as I go along, just as many of you may be. I am thankful for my team and community where I feel like I can learn about things like Lent and Advent as an adult and embrace new spiritual practices. Last year at this time, before COVID, I was welcomed to the Church of the Resurrection on Shrove Tuesday. They are a beautiful, feel-like-family partner church to the Dale in many ways, and all of the money from their pancake dinner was going to The Dale. I was invited to share a bit about The Dale with them and thank them for their generosity. That was such a beautiful memory for me, and one in which I had to stand out of my comfort zone by talking in front of a room full of people. I also think that night was the first pancake supper I had ever been to.

Well, this year with COVID restrictions, we had to get pretty creative about what our pancake supper would look like. We decided it would be at 6pm with pancake meals to go (as per our usual these days). Despite being hit with a massive overnight storm and frigid temperatures, we held fast to our commitment and met last evening to prepare. Christ Church St. James took on the task of purchasing food and preparing hundreds of pancakes and sausages, we were given styrofoam containers to put them in, purchased little syrups and butters to add, made cutlery packages, and much more. For two hours we packaged meals, prepared sides, bagged everything, and prepared it all to go outside. We made 100 meals! What a gift of many efforts and hands.

When we went outside at 5:55pm, there were about 5 people in line. You can imagine our slight disappointment considering we had prepared little flyers and handed them out the week before to our community to remind them of our special dinner. However we got to work! We carried a chalk board sign up the street that said “FREE PANCAKE SUPPER!”. We walked up and down Queen Street a few feet each way inviting people to feast with us. Over the next 45 minutes as we stood shaking in our boots, only about 20 more people trickled along. Some were regulars who remembered we would be there, some were new faces that we invited as they walked by, and some neighbours. And you know what? We had the best time! We cheered everyone who came by, gave seconds, danced to keep warm, laughed, and talked from a safe distance. We all had to wear masks, we couldn’t sit and eat together as we long to do, and we had way less people come than we hoped. But we did our best, some amazing people helped make it happen, we saw some friends and made some new ones. I for one had a really great time. It was a feast, just as Shrove Tuesday is intended to be.

I have decided to participate in Lent this year for the first time in my life. Erinn always mentions that it is a time to either give something up that isn’t adding value, or to start doing something that will add value. I have decide to give up social media and Youtube for these next 40 days. These things add value to my life in many ways, however I have also noticed they are habits of endless content consumption that lately have led me down the road of comparison in motherhood and have been a thief of my joy. This Lenten season, I am going to let those things go and practice adding a different kind of value to my days. I will be spending quiet time in prayer, reading or listening to books or podcasts, colouring, writing and cleaning my space. I hope to call out in prayer more when I am struggling, sit and be rather than just keep busy, and do things that bring me joy as Meagan – not mom, wife, or daughter.

This has been a longer blog than intended maybe but thanks for sticking with me if you’re still here. It’s been a while since I’ve sat to write and it’s good sometimes to get it all out there, I think. I hope that next year we can sit and eat a pancake supper together – inside! I hope that whether you are practicing Lent or not, that you find ways to call out to God. I pray that you feel hope and gratitude this season before Easter when we remember the sacrifice that God made sending His beloved Son to die for us. And I pray that you find peace where you are.

Thanks for being here. Peace to you.

Meg

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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

A Week in the Life

I thought I would take you all on a little virtual journey, “a week in the life” if you will. Now that I have been back at work for a few months and the hectic swirl of the Christmas season has come and gone, I feel like I have my bearings enough. Going back to work after maternity leave was hard enough, let alone with a whole change in the way my work life looked as I knew it. I think I am finally settling into our “new normal” (anyone else hate that phrase now??) and would love to take you along.

There is some debate as to whether a week starts on a Sunday or a Monday. In my head, it’s a Monday. We meet up at our room in the basement of a church, what has been our HQ since the pandemic began and we needed a place to keep our stuff and prepare meals. We are so grateful to our community partners who have always been generous with space towards us and our folks. First step – check in. We sit together as a team and talk about how we are and we pray for each other. What a beautiful gift. After that, we get super busy. Opening bags, distributing snacks into said bags, and later on the frozen meals prepared by Second Harvest. About 90 bags are prepped, along with 10 warm meals. At 12:45, we are moving all the meals up and outside where our community is waiting in line 6ft apart. We give lunch to go at 1pm, and try to connect with people in line from a safe and masked distance. What a difference from our communal meals before Covid – they are missed!

The line.

Tuesday morning, we meet over WhatsApp video chat for our weekly staff meeting! We become 4 little squares on a phone – what times! I miss our coffee shop meetings at the cozy Rustic Cosmo. We discuss all things Dale, and end with a prayer. A beautiful way to start the day. The rest of the day includes admin work and fundraising – reaching out to all of those who make our work possible and partner with us in a variety of ways. We love connecting with you!

Staff meeting!

Wednesday is meal prep and outreach day. While I am home with Charlotte, the girls prep 45 or more breakfast sandwiches to go inside brown paper bags, along with a fruit or muffins and a juice box! After breakfast is ready, they hit the road either by foot or in our new van (name yet to be determined). Along Queen Street is where we frequent most, up and down the length of Parkdale chatting with our friends and some strangers. We usually bring socks, snacks, drinks, and winter gear to have practical items to give. But the main goal is to meet people where they are at and connect in a different space. Doing outreach is one of my favourite parts of my job, and a skill I am always working to be better at. It can be hard for a shy person like me!

Our new outreach van

Thursday we meet back at The Dale HQ in the morning and bring the pre-made breakfasts up and outside. They are given out again to our friends who respectfully form a line outside. We are so grateful that this has been very maintainable in terms of keeping everyone safe. While we miss sitting around a table, we are so glad to see our friends mask to mask and connect a couple times a week. After breakfast has been given, we usually disperse to do different forms of outreach. Whether that be going for another walk, having a meeting with each other, tidying up our room or storage unit, or dropping groceries to someone’s door there is never a shortage of things to do!

Breakfast before it’s made into sandwiches!

Friday is a day of rest – our Sabbath! We take this very seriously, and are glad for the ways we can each find a day or moment of rest as our home life rhythm allows.

Finally, we reach Sunday! Usually some combination of us collects the Second Harvest delivery in the morning. We get all 100 meals we need for Monday from SH; they are all safely cooked and packaged by volunteers. We also usually get fruit and snacks to give out throughout the week, and if we are really lucky – the eggs used to make breakfast! We have always been so grateful to partner with Second Harvest even before Covid times. We would have a hard time functioning without them! After this, we do a variety of things depending on the weather and COVID restrictions. All which have included an outside small church service sitting 6ft apart, or outreach around the neighbourhood.

We are always finding ways to stay true to who we are as an organization and community. Despite having to pivot multiple times a month, week, or day to meet Covid restrictions and stay safe, we are doing our best and only by and for the glory of God. We are grateful to all those who partner with us – we wouldn’t be The Dale without you.

Thanks for coming along in a week with me! I wish you could all be a fly on the wall of my week in real life and see how COOL my job is. But this will have to do! Peace to you this week as you go about your routines. I am grateful to have you in my life!


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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Gifts from God.

On Monday we gathered outside as we do these days in a safe and masked fashion to serve meals to-go and connect with our friends as they wait in line 6ft apart. It was our first Monday back since we took our Christmas break. With the weather being cold and damp these days and the lockdown continuing, we weren’t sure how many folks we would see. However as it goes, the line stretched back far down the road and around the corner. We had some leftover goodies from Christmas, some donated Gatorade, and a meal to give in a clear bag, along with some new hats and hot chocolate as people waited in line.

A lot of time on a Monday, whatever we are able to put in a bag to give and hand out in line is only made possible because we have been given much. The meals come from Second Harvest and we get 100 of them to give. The snacks and goodies are a mix of Second Harvest donated snacks and items people buy for us that they know we need, such as the Gatorade. The hats, PPE, socks, hot chocolate – all bought with money we have been given or donated by churches who have made or purchased them for us. Even down to the plastic bags… we put out a call on social media one day when we were running low and received literally thousands of bags, some still coming in to this day.

In the past few weeks, our friends in community have reached out to us with requests. One for a DVD player and one for a TV. These folks either live alone or are feeling isolated in their place. For a lot of people right now, isolation is very difficult. When you don’t have the means to be able to FaceTime, zoom, or chat over video… days can feel long and lonely. TV and movies help ease that slightly, so when our friends reached out in need, Erinn put out a call for the items requested and was given what we needed within minutes. People shared the posts, prayed, kept eyes out, and gave what the had for someone they didn’t know. In some cases, we got multiples.

Last year with COVID causing lockdowns and stay home orders, a lot of people’s work lives shifted resulting in a financial shift. I think we all expected the year to be a little scarce in terms of being able to provide what we need for our community and meals. As you know, The Dale functions monetarily through people’s financial gifts. Instead of ending the year in scarcity, we actually ended with plenty – many winter items to give, money to buy things for the community and outreach, a new van for outreach, and much more.

I hope this doesn’t come across as bragging… I am no stranger to the grief that is present in many people right now. Sometimes it feels like the darkness is looming. However, we often start our days as a team in check in and prayer, and we feel so grateful for the provision from God and those He works through. We have been given so, so much. More than we ever thought possible. We pray daily that we would use what we have with wisdom and grace, that it would help reduce some of the weight our folks feel, that we could be the hands and feet of God in Parkdale, and that we would be good stewards of what we have.

As we were ending our time outside together on Monday, a man came up to us and thanked us abundantly for the meal, for being there continually, and for showing up. He said, “I hope COVID ends soon. We need to be together, not apart. This is hard…. but God knows.” He thanked us again and left, and I definitely did not have dry eyes. This has been a hard time. There are many aches in people which are presenting in a variety of ways. Gathering outside is so different for us and really hard some days in the cold and rain. But God knows. He sees us and He is blessing us. And because of that we can be present to our friends and community and continue to show up when it’s hard. The love and thanks we get back is totally not why we do any of this. We only do it for His glory. But when our hearts are touched I think it’s a little gift from God saying, “I know. Keep going.” Thank YOU all for being apart of that in many ways. We are blessed.

With peace this week…


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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Waiting.

I have never intentionally set out to practice Advent before this year. It is a time when we anticipate the coming of Jesus before Christmas. Where we wait in anticipation and reflect on hope, peace, joy, and love. Each Sunday, a different candle is lit and each week another candle is added as a remembrance of what is to come – the birth of our Saviour. This year, with COVID restrictions, we have not been able to gather as a church in the way we have been used to. So at The Dale we decided to make Advent packages and distribute them to our congregation in hopes that we could celebrate the Advent season together, but apart. For weeks leading up to the first Sunday of Advent, we each took a week on as a staff team. We wrote a prayer and a chose a bible verse to reflect on. We picked songs, made colouring pages, and packed candles into bags. We gave them out to our community and we started a few Sundays ago now of waiting together in this season.

The first two Sundays, Ian and I practiced these Advent traditions together, lighting one purple candle the first week for Hope and lighting another the week after for Peace. We read the prayers and verses, listened to the songs, and coloured in the book. Hope and Peace – two things that weren’t easy to reflect on given the current times but in the spirit of being intentional we did try and found some hope and peace in those weeks that brought a lot of comfort.

On the third Sunday of Advent, Ian’s mother Katharyn unexpectedly passed away. The third week of Advent is the week of Joy. I can tell you that it has been hard to find. Joy… I literally just googled the meaning of joy and found a lot about a deep rooted happiness. Was happiness lingering this week? Definitely not. In my heart I know that joy comes from the Lord – from his goodness. When bad things happen to us, we know that God remains God and that He is good. I also know that when you are sat in deep sorrow, joy feels further away. We wait in this season of Advent now on a week meant to be reflected on Joy, in a sense of despair grasping for answers that have yet to be found – on why Katharyn passed and how. How could this happen now? There are so many things that have been going on in our family behind the scenes that I will leave private. But I will tell you that waiting in anticipation with Joy is a practice that we have been sorely lacking in.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we celebrated Katharyn’s life. The fourth Sunday represents Love. She was and is loved by a variety of people who miss her with a sense of urgency that comes with walking in grief. To remember her life is to find love in who she is, in the memories we hold, and the way that her heart carried love for her family. The love that she had for her family runs very deep.

This week our family was touched by many people, near and far. We were given practical nourishment – food, coffee, and gifts of love. We were given spiritual nourishment – prayer, cards, comfort, support, and calls. These things are helping me remember the past two weeks of Advent that I was missing. Joy – a sense that God is good even in difficult circumstance. And Love – His love for us fills the cracks of sadness and fills us up and reaches for us when we feel like shutting out and shutting down.

These weeks have been very difficult… these months have been very difficult. As we walk through life holding hands with a new sense of deep grief, we are living in a time with vibrant lights, happy songs, and a joyful demeanour – Christmas is around the corner. It has been such a jarring thing to walk each day in sorrow being surrounded by the anticipation of Christmas. It is in these times that I hold fast not to the anticipation of Christmas as we know it societally. But of the anticipation of Christ our Saviour. This is where the worldly Joy that I wasn’t feeling can be brought in through the Joy of God’s goodness. Where the Love that seemed to be dripping in tears can be made whole again. Where Peace and Hope don’t just come in dreaming of a better new year, but of a Kingdom that will one day come. This is where I rest in my Advent season. It has not been perfect, but it continues on whether we keep up or not. And He waits with me and my family, holds us closer when we need it, and brings people in that really know and care.

Peace to you this week… thank you if you have prayed for us, come alongside us, and joined us this week in grief. We needed you, and we are finding comfort in your care.

Katharyn Knight – a light of quiet yet fierce and loyal love.

Holding My Breath.

Things look a lot different at The Dale these days. All of our efforts to connect with community are done outside. We wear N95 masks for the entirety of our shift – we pray, smile, cry, and hope under those masks now. All of our meals are given outdoors and taken to-go… we can no longer gather around a table. I knew that when I got back to work mid October that I would have some processing catching up to do in terms of how different life at work would be. I think for the most part that processing is still happening in chunks. Last night I was able to do some reflecting on life at work with Ian and it was good to talk to him (and my team) who understand so many intimate details of what this new life is like for us.

There are so many things I long to communicate but I am still searching around for the words, often unable to describe the then and now and the contrast between time before and present time. There are so many polarities. So many gifts in this new COVID season of new connections and constant provision, and so much taken. I often write on this blog about holding hands with grief and joy. This is one of those times.

A couple weeks ago, Erinn gave a message at our Sunday service and she talked about “thin places”. To describe it is like trying to describe a feeling. It is those times when we are firmly planted on earth and yet somehow a veil lifts and we catch a glimpse of heaven and feel God so close to us. When a child is born, when we witness family reuniting, when we can be close to someone in their weeping. I feel like before at The Dale, there were so many opportunities for thin moments and I wish I had been more keenly aware. Sometimes it can feel like thin moments are lost on me these days.

Yesterday as a team at our check-in time we discussed the notion of how in many things in life and especially at The Dale, we can often do something but we can’t do everything. There are so many instances where I want to do everything. I want to give someone exactly what they were hoping we would hand out for lunch. I want to get all the work done that we have on our constantly flowing to-do list. I want to put a bandaid over the heart wounds of my friends that sometimes spill out too easily. I want to put a bandaid over my heart wounds too.

But if I have learned anything over my years in this work it is that I am not a saviour, I can’t fix it all, and I sure can’t do everything. I can give the food I have to give and be a safe and dignifying space for our community. I can participate in the work we have to do and be a good team member. I can sit with my friends and help them hold the heavy things of our lives. These are the some things I can do. I look to God to help with the rest.

This blog feels like a breath being held to me. I am sorry if you feel that too. I didn’t really know where I was going when I started and I am not sure that I know where I am going with this now. I think writing helps get some of the stuff out… so thanks for sitting here with me in this space. I would ask you to pray as we enter into winter. The cold air is coming and it makes it mighty difficult to be working outside. Our friends are weary. We are worried about the future. We are trying to catch and hold joy and gifts and thin places but it is hard when grief pulls the other hand. I hope you can understand.

With peace to you, and hope that I can witness more thin places. I know they are still there. In a season that is supposed to be met with joy, hope, peace, and love. I pray… and I thank you for yours.

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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Wisdom from a Loud Stranger.

Today as I was taking the streetcar home, I sat across from a seating area that was a mess. There was an empty beer can left, some other garbage, and some crumbs of weed on a folded paper. Definitely not an inviting scene to me but not uncommon. I took my seat in a cleaner spot and was lost in thought when a man got on the streetcar a few stops later.

His personality was loud. From the way he walked and moved to the way he chose to sit near me in the area filled with what I thought was garbage. He threw the can aside, slammed down his stuff, and threw the banner that was supposed to be a barrier out of the way. Suddenly he exclaimed very loudly. “Woah! I was just rolling a joint! Look at all the weed here! Look at this! Who can say there isn’t a God?!” He was thrilled. I mean beyond thrilled… he was ecstatic. I could feel the tension in the car rising beyond normal levels. Stay with me for a second. I know I probably have some more conservative readers here and I’m going on about a guy thanking God for drugs. I do have a point.

This guy was the loudest one on the streetcar but honestly, he was probably the most tuned out. “Another guy yelling on the streetcar”, right? Another person who’s just a little too different to ignore. But there was wisdom in his rambunctiousness. As people looked side to side and tried to keep their eyes on anything else but this guy, he spouted out loads of wisdom. Yes he was thanking God for weed. But he also said, “A man who can’t appreciate a dime will never be a millionaire.” He appreciated what was left behind and found a gift in what was meant to be nothing. He talked about his wife and had loads of knowledge about the Muslim bible, the Quran. He talked about how women should be adored and respected, mothers especially. He said, “Any man who does not respect women, I would look at him and ask where he came from? A woman! He should get down and kiss the toes of his mother.”

We didn’t get far before I reached my stop and had to get off, but I wanted to get out my notebook and take notes from this man. I don’t know exactly who he was talking to. Maybe himself, maybe someone I couldn’t see, or maybe all of us. Some of what he said was hard to track, but a lot of what he said had such value. Respect, finding gifts, knowledge of a holy book. When we look past people that are different than us, we miss a lot. When we look past those that are loud and that sit amongst garbage and thank God for drugs, we miss a lot. I know a lot of people would have walked past this guy and not sat down, but I know that Jesus would.

That feels uncomfortable to me too sometimes. Jesus would sit with the loudest one on the streetcar. He would sit with the crying one. He would sit down next to someone passed out. He would sit next to someone talking to no one we can see. He would sit next to the one drinking the beer and throwing the can aside. Would you? Would I? How can we love others who may look different from us or act different from us? How can we be alongside them? Something to think about… I’m still learning too.

Peace to you.

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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Familiar Ground.

Thursday was my first day back in Parkdale at work in about a year. I didn’t feel the urge to cry until I sat in the car with Ian and watched as Charlotte waved to me from our front door in my moms capable and loving arms. I was grateful to many people on Thursday, but especially to a friend and one of our community partners who dropped in to what is now The Dale HQ and asked how I was doing. When I told her I was teary all morning she said she’s not sure when it ever ends (she has three kiddos herself) and said she wanted to hold that space for me. I am grateful for friends who see and know.

A lot has changed about the way we do programming these days. As we handed out breakfast meals that morning I got to chat with people in line from under my mask and was so aware that half my face was missing from the equation. I already miss seeing people smile, and was trying to practice keeping my eyes smiling on the bus ride home.

I met a man that day whose name already escapes me. He has started coming to The Dale since my departure, and his words struck me. After our introduction from Joanna, he said it was nice to meet me and then, “Welcome Home” as he shrugged. I was taken aback after writing something very similar in a blog last week before my return to work. He shrugged as if that was naturally the only thing he could say to someone in this situation – welcome home. I’m not sure, but I’ve been thinking about it all weekend since and I think God put those words on his tongue for me to receive that day.

Home. I looked up the definition of home last night as I couldn’t get this out of my head. Upon searching I found what I knew to be true in the basic sense. That home is a place of residence, a place of origin, where one lives… etc. It’s actually funny that someone may describe The Dale as home in THAT sense since we tend to move around so much. Our stuff basically moves from one place to the other on constant rotation and us along with it. Nomads with a schedule, that’s what we are.

I think to get to the root of the feeling I had, I had to search for something else. Not just home, but AT HOME. To be at home. Relaxed and comfortable, at ease, in harmony with the surroundings, and this – on familiar ground. Our feet have walked up and down Parkdale countless times. We know the streets, and each other. To be at home is not just to be at a certain place. It means to FEEL at home – to feel comfortable and at ease. As a community we can move around each other with a certain familiarity. We know each other by name, we have inside jokes, we know what people like and don’t and we are always learning and growing as a unit. We feel like we are on familiar ground. And that is what I think of when I come back to The Dale.

Welcome Home. I know when I show up to work our stuff may be here and there. I know we are always on the move. I know we don’t have a place to call our own, but many places indeed that carry pieces of our hearts. Lots of buildings and rooms have held our tears and our laughter. But more so my community is home. A place of familiarity. A place I can be myself. A place I can come and show up and give and receive. A place that I am seen and known. A place that is always and forever changing but somehow still remains familiar ground.

Welcome Home.

Peace to you this week in an ever changing world. May you find your familiar ground.


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 meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Coming Home to The Dale.

October is a very reminiscent month for me. It is the month, almost four years ago now, that Ian and I started dating. We are always taken back to that time in the month of October, and remember fondly falling in love. It is now also the month before my sweet girl was born. This year, I find myself thinking, “Last year this time I was pretty huge! Last year this time I was walking around the park trying to get a baby out! Last year this time I was just going off work….”

Next week Tuesday will be my first day back to work at The Dale since “this time last year.” Time sure has a way of doing that – moving along faster than you can imagine. So many things are different now. For starters, I did walk around the park enough to walk a baby out! Our sweet Charlotte will be a year on November 6th. She’s standing, eating lots, becoming more vocal, and growing so much. Ian and I also moved when Charlotte was just two months old. Finally… COVID – the thing no one could have anticipated.

This mat leave turned out to be really different than I thought it would be. As I have alluded to in previous blogs, I spent a lot of this year alone. Where I would have thought I would be hanging out with my friends who had kids, I walked alone. Where I thought I would have been sharing in Charlie’s milestones with family, we saw each other a lot over FaceTime. Where I thought I would be visiting The Dale and showing off my kid, I ate alone at home only dreaming of the struggle my community was going through trying to stay open and connected.

Now I prepare to head back to work and COVID still isn’t letting up, and who knows what the future holds. I feel fearful of getting on transit and being more exposed to so many people. I worry that new people in the community won’t know me. I feel anxiety over going back to work and having to learn a new routine, a new set of safety rules, and a new world essentially. I thought my return would involve hugs, handshakes, pictures, and eating meals around a table catching up – not face shields and hand sanitizer. Maybe this all sounds selfish… I know people are fighting for their lives during COVID times in many ways, but this is my reality right now.

This year was not all heavy. I did get to spend a lot of quality time with Charlotte. It was such a joy watching her grow and learn new things. It was hard too. But I feel proud of our accomplishments. Ian got to spend five amazing weeks with us on his own paternity leave in September. We took trips to the beach in the early mornings to walk, went to the farm, got some apple picking in, and spent many normal quiet days just together as a family. I also got to see my mom finally when COVID slowed this summer and watch her find great joy in being with Charlotte.

Next week as I return to work, things will be different I know. We are battling with a few things here in the Knight house, including two parents returning to work, a baby turning one, and a whole lot of in between stuff because Life never stops. I am grateful for a team that understands and loves deeply, who embraces me with open arms (and all my emotions!). I am grateful for the flexibility to work the hours I can to be able to work and be at home with Charlotte. I am grateful that people in the community are already checking in, encouraging me in this transition. And I am grateful for a God who always provides in ways that I least expect it – but that’s a blog for another day.

I guess this is a small way to say, hi! I’m coming home to The Dale, and I am nervously excited (a phrase Ian and I often use). Thank you for waiting on the other side for me. I must admit it was harder to write here than I hoped. I look forward to meeting you here more often in the coming weeks.

Peace to you this week.


I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this type of work means fundraising to earn my salary. If you follow along on this journey with me and would like to support me in my work, please send me an email at meagan.gillard@gmail.com. I would love to chat with you!