The Forgiveness Table.

A couple of Sunday’s ago, Ian was driving me to work for my shift collecting our weekly meals from Second Harvest. We were early, and we were also having a disagreement. We got to the church and Ian pulled over on Cowan Avenue and we tried to talk it out but it wasn’t going anywhere. We couldn’t even agree to disagree. With this in mind, after about 20 minutes of talking, I just decided to say goodbye and go into work. It was not the best farewell.

I was walking up the driveway to the church entrance when I saw a table discarded on the driveway. I had seen it before being used by one of our partner organizations and loved it. I was even keeping my eye out for one similar (if you know me, you know I love finding free stuff on the side of the road or on Facebook Marketplace!). This table was now broken, and the leg was nowhere in plain sight although I did eventually find it in a planter near the door. I stood for a couple of minutes beside the table looking at it, wondering if I should put my name on it and take it home later. I was about to just forget it, thinking I had no way to get it home, when I looked up and saw Ian was still sitting in the car looking at me, waiting to make sure I was okay. I was expecting that he would have driven away quickly after our departure, but there he was at the end of the long driveway.

I picked up the table and started walking back to the car. Ian got out, and silently started moving the seats around to fit the table in. I ran back for the leg, put it in the trunk, and he closed up the back. I looked at him, he at me, and we hugged each other both saying sorry. “You drive me nuts, but I love ya.” – something we tell each other often, covered in deep love. This garbage broken table brought us together in an unexpected way, and is slowly being fixed and repainted in my backyard.

Forgiveness is something I struggle with sometimes. It is hard for me to admit I am wrong, and it is hard for me to know someone may think I had bad intentions. Being married to Ian and working at The Dale have been the biggest lessons in unconditional love and forgiveness I have been witness to and been the recipient of.

There are many times I have seen community members come together with a handshake when I thought their friendships were over. There have been times I have been stopped on the street by a community member and forgiven for things I have done. There have been times that Ian has forgiven me when he could have held onto anger. I am trying to lean into these hard lessons, and remember that the grace I receive from my community and my family is not perfect, but it is important. And the grace I receive from God covers all things, all of my imperfections, and all of the lessons I have yet to learn. I am so grateful.

Sometimes, it takes a handshake to come together. Sometimes an offer to go to a movie together. Sometimes saying “I’m sorry.” And sometimes it takes a table destined for the trash – but God’s love is funny that way. He saved our brokenness and I know he uses these things to teach us some lessons too.

With peace.

Meg


I am a community member at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this work and share these stories with you, I must fundraise for my entire salary. That means asking people like you to support me financially in this work! Please consider giving at https://www.thedale.org/donate/ and indicate that the donation is for me. Thank you!

Peace and a Friend.

As someone who lives with anxiety, the word “peace” (maybe ironically) holds a special place in my heart.

I remember being an intern at Sanctuary Ministries back in 2013. I was very new to community building, friendship based ministry, walking alongside so many people I had never met, deconstructing my faith… I was making some friends in the community but it is a thing that takes time, as with many friendships. I was always so nervous before our big community dinners on Thursday nights. On my way to sanctuary on the subway I would say, “Oh God, please give me peace and a friend. Amen” over and over and over until I got to work. I know He granted me the things I asked for.

I’ve uttered this prayer so many times. On one of my first weeks at The Dale, I was sitting with Erinn and Joanna in the quiet of the room we used to hold our breakfast drop-in at, before anyone arrived. We were sitting together in a corner of the sunlit room, praying together – a tradition I was still new to. I was very nervous, about another drop in where I didn’t know many people, about being new to this role, about praying in front of my new co workers. When it was my turn I offered up the only prayer I could think of – “God, please give me peace and a friend.” I received these things in abundance.

On Sunday afternoons at The Dale service, we take time after opening with singing together to offer each other peace. Erinn says, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” And we say back, “and also with you.” And then those of us who can get up do so, and we walk around offering each other peace, looking one another in the eyes, and giving a hug, elbow bump, wave or peace sign.

I have tried to understand that peace is not just a simple emotion to feel. I think it really is a peace that comes from the Lord, as Erinn says every week. I feel it when I pray to God and ask him for peace inside. I feel it when I remember to regularly take my anxiety medication. I feel it when I greet my community on Sunday in peace and receive it back from them in abundance. I feel it when I’m camping with Ian and watching Charlotte smell the flowers and when I listen to a song I like. It is a deep sense of contentment in my heart and soul that God puts there for me.

Sometimes, it is hard to feel. Sometimes I am reaching for it and it’s not there. Sometimes there is worry and trouble inside. That’s okay. Not everyday will be filled with deep peace. That is when I can practice looking for Hope from God that peace will return. I can practice the art of receiving it from others. Peace comes in many forms.

I got this tattoo today, one that I have been wanting for some time. I got it on the back of my arm above my elbow: a place that I can’t see easily but I know is there. A place that others will see and receive.

So as always, peace to you this week. I leave you with that farewell every blog for a reason. I really do hope you can receive my peace, given through God. And if you don’t just yet, that’s okay. I pray for hope.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. In order to do this work I must fundraise money for my salary. If you would like to financially support my work, please leave me a message at meagan.gillard@gmail.com.

Offering Gladly.

Tithing at church growing up always left me feeling a lot of guilt and shame. I never remembered to bring any money (although I was a child). Growing older, I heard frequently to always give 10% of what you made back to the church, although I could never manage to do that either. When the tithing plate came around I felt bashful, putting in my change and hoping no one would notice that it wasn’t much, as the plate went from person to person. Surely everyone would see my small tithe and think less of me.

As an adult, I have only recently starting my own form of tithing in the form of supporting a person who fundraises for their salary, and yet I always feel guilty that it is in no way close to 10% of what I have. With bills and a toddler and all of life’s expenses, I will always look for more ways to give back monetarily, but it won’t ever equal 10% at this point. Part of me feels so much guilt, although as a person who fundraises, I gladly accept even $1 and cherish it as a special offering from someone’s heart.

Lately, I have been wondering how God feels about all of this.

At the Dale, I have learned that calling what people give us “offering” has felt very freeing. We use a hat or a basket to collect our offering, and recognize that not everyone can give money, such as they normally would during tithing. Instead, offering can be money, art, a prayer, doing the dishes for our meals, bringing a donation of clothes, offering a word of encouragement to other community members, a token, a cigarette, and so much more. We have pictures of our offerings from various weeks, as the unique things dropped in the basket are so beautiful and are deeply cherished by us.

Money and a piece of community art from this weeks offering basket.

Not only are these offerings going to The Dale, which in turn go back into the community. They are also for God. In my opinion, He does not need a certain amount of money to see your love for Him and His people. He needs to see your heart. If all you have to give one week is a prayer, that’s okay. If you have 10% to give, that’s okay. If you have the ability to wash a dish for a friend, that’s okay. Any gift that is offered with a joyful heart, given up to Him through loving your neighbour, is pleasing to the Lord. That’s what I hope anyways.


“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7


I have always struggled with perfectionism. Part of my anxiety stems from always trying to do things to such a high standard. And while there is nothing wrong to holding yourself to a high standard, it needs to be a grey area where there is also room for grace for yourself. My change in the tithing basket never seemed like enough. However, working at The Dale and learning many lessons about the art of giving and receiving, and offering your best, has taught me that God takes gladness in our best efforts – whatever that looks like. Whether it is a penny or a dollar, when we give joyfully, He knows our heart’s intentions. And I hope that He is pleased.

In talking to Joanna and Olivia about my blog, Jo helped me think of the 10% “rule of thumb” in tithing as one that is not meant to be legalistic, but more of a benchmark. When we give more than what we think we can, God also sees that and is faithful to us in taking care of us when we think we won’t have enough. I know that to be true from when I started my work here at The Dale and never thought I would be able to support myself through fundraising my salary. I am grateful for the wisdom of my co-workers turned friends that teach me new things all the time and help me see things in new ways.

I was really nervous to write about this! Talking about money always feels a little strange to me. But I hope you can see through this blog that perfectionism can take over your peace, and instead giving what you have in the form of money or offerings is always gladly accepted by God. Giving your best and going beyond that when you don’t think you are able will be received well by God, and He will care for you.

With peace.

Speaking of fundraising, in order to work at The Dale I must fundraise my entire salary by asking people to walk alongside me financially. If you are able to, I would love to connect with you about this. You can visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/?mprompt=1 to give and indicate that it is for me, or you can connect with me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Sitting With Discomfort

I used to feel really nervous going to church at The Dale on a Sunday. I grew up in a few different kinds of churches as a kid and teenager, but this was true for all of them: they were mid-sized in terms of the congregation, and controlled. I knew what songs were coming every week, I was told when to sit and stand, I was prayed on behalf of by the Pastor, and I went home after. It was comfortable.

Church at The Dale is not always comfortable. In fact, it is never usually comfortable. It can be awkward, tense, loud at the “wrong” times, and painful. With my anxiety, for a long time this was all I could focus on. But something switched in me after becoming a mother and coming back to The Dale. I still see the awkward and painful parts, but they don’t scare me as much. I am learning that these are the things that make it so beautiful and holy for me. I am learning so much from attending church at The Dale, especially about what it means to step out of my comfort zone, come into community however it looks, and sit with discomfort at times too.

Sometimes, people come into church in a bad space. They are angry, frustrated and sad. No doubt, this has happened to me as well. However, I can sometimes hide it better. People have come in crying, swearing, fighting, throwing. Folks cry during prayer, get angry at God, and tell the truth. We’ve had dogs eating communion bread with us, people preaching during community prayer time, painting, sewing, and playing on their phones. The sanctuary is quite large, and our congregation tends to be on the smaller side. So the loud and sometimes unexpected noises used to startle me. They can be what makes things feel awkward. People don’t shy away from being themselves at The Dale.

I need to reflect on this. What about people being themselves makes me uncomfortable? What about the unexpected is hard for me? Why do I care if things feel awkward? It’s because I wasn’t in control. I didn’t have control over the environment to make sure it was always perfect and safe. I didn’t have control over other people’s emotions and if they were sad or angry, which is hard for me. I didn’t have control over making sure everyone was “okay” at all times. But to be honest, this is something I will never be able to control.

I have been working a lot in therapy on perfectionism and how trying to be perfect adds to my anxiety. Learning to lean into releasing control has been hard, but I can see the fruits of my labour when I am sitting in church. People are going to come as they are, me included. All are welcome. Full stop. I can only control myself, and making sure that I am safe and that we as The Dale are a safe space as a whole. I can be a friend. I can pray with someone having a hard day. I can choose a hymn to sing that will lift someone’s spirit. I can mediate in a hard conversation. And I can leave the rest to God.

When we lean into His spirit, His safety, and His community and release control of how we think things “should” look, we can see the beauty that has always been there. We can see community members apologizing to each other during prayer time. We can see that our friends feel safe to come as they are and be themselves, whether that be sad or angry. We can see that God is making people softer where they need to be. We can hear the wisdom and profoundness of that prayer turned sermon during sharing time. We can pass the peace and serve communion knowing that community is so beautiful and a true gift, even when it is loud, awkward, and unexpected at times.

I am so grateful for the church we have at The Dale. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to come as I am too. I am grateful that I have been forgiven, and have been prayed over endlessly since the day I started working here. I am grateful for the chance to lean into feeling uncomfortable with my feelings, and with trying new things (such as when I did the teaching time in the summer last year). I am grateful that The Dale continues to be this: a welcome, safe space for all people to come as they are.

Peace to you this week. May you find the beauty in leaning into hard things.


I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale, Toronto. This work requires that I fundraise for my entire salary and ask for people like you to humbly support me financially in my work. If you enjoy this blog, love hearing about our community, and want to join me in this journey at The Dale by supporting my work, please visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/ or email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com.

To Those Who Sow Weeping.

Within the last couple of weeks, two very core Dale community members passed away. Their names were Ronnie and Ash. It has been heavy, sad, hard, and burdensome. There have only been a few instances in my time here at The Dale where we have had to have more than one funeral so close together. For that, I am grateful. Ronnie’s family had a funeral for him, and then they attended ours here in Parkdale. Ash’s funeral is on Monday with his family and friends. These have been exhausting, grief filled weeks.

There have been times that I have wondered, why? Why do I do this work? Why do I draw close to people when I know the chances of them dying are significantly higher than other people in my life? Why was I called to do community work which involves constant tendering of a sensitive heart? Can I handle this?

I do not have any answers. All I know is that in all of this, I do not want to back away. Despite feeling sad, heart broken, and hopeless at times I still want to stay. I still want to love. I still want to be here more than anything. I am grateful for the way we love each other here at The Dale, as a staff team and as a community. The love of this place patches up my broken pieces, holds grief with me, allows space for emotion, participates in hard things together, and finds ways to keep going. I have learned a lot of lessons about resilience and bravery.

I have been finding comfort in the lyrics of this song by Bi Frost Arts, called Psalm 126:

Although we are weeping
Lord, help us keep sowing
The seeds of Your Kingdom

For the day You will reap them
Your sheaves we will carry
Lord, please do not tarry
All those who sow weeping will go out with songs of joy.”

Although we are weeping, Lord help us keep sowing the seeds of Your Kingdom. It has become its own prayer for me in times of hopelessness and grief. I know that God is with us now in this heaviness. I know he draws close. I know that one day I will sit at The Table with my friends again, in perfect peace and wholeness. And I know until that day comes, I can have hope that sowing seeds of the Kingdom will end with great joy, even if there is sorrow in the mean time. I thank God for His promises.

All of this to say, that grief is not easy. I am thankful for Ian who stays even when the side of grief that comes out in private is not as put together as these words may seem. I am grateful for my daughter, who is filled with laughter and joy. I am grateful for my family who cares for Charlotte so I can have times of rest. And I am sad. Sad that my friends are dying so soon and so young. I am sad that there is no way to immediately fix the gaps in our systems. I miss my friends.

In these moments I will keep praying my new prayer. I will try to keep sowing seeds. I will find ways to remember all those that have gone to be with the Creator. And I will find peace in knowing that grief is not always tied up with a pretty bow after a funeral ends. It can linger. But those who sow weeping will go out with songs of joy.

Peace.


I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this work, I must fundraise my own salary. This is only possible through financial gifts from supporters like you. You can visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/ to give to my work here, indicating that the donation is for me. With much thanks!

Your Groans Are Prayers.

We have a funeral to attend this afternoon for our dear friend Ronnie who passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago. Up until now, his death has felt surreal. Almost like he is just in hospital or away, which has happened before. I know that with the service today with his family, and the one we have next week here in Parkdale, will allow for a certain type of closure to happen.

This morning, I found myself feeling tender. It started off as feeling emotional as I watched Charlotte eat her breakfast slowly and watch her special TV show as a treat while she woke up. Then it was in my chest as I felt anxious about what the day would bring. Finally on the subway I realized it was probably just a processing of this grief, and all of the tenderness I hold about many handfuls of my friends who have passed away over the years. Never in my life would I have imagined that my work and this relationship building would involve so much loss. Now it has become normal.

I sat on the subway in silence, trying to breath slowly in and out. Normally if I don’t listen to music, I just let my thoughts wander. Today I thought I would try to pray and seek something that would help me feel more prepared for the day. I breathed in. “Oh, Lord…” I breathed out. I breathed in again. This happened for a couple of minutes. I thought, “You know… right?” And I could feel a peace in me that He did in fact know, even though I had not spoken anything aloud.

This reminded me of something I had seen online recently – it was a post on instagram. I will link it below. It was written by a woman named KJ Ramsey. The post says, “Your groans are prayers.” In it she goes on to write “Ugh can be a prayer. Your groans do not diminish your glory. Your pain does not silence your prayer. When you name your groans prayers, you remember your name is Beloved. Even your sighs are sacred.” She then quoted Romans 8:28:

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting,

God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.

If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.

He does our praying in and for us,

making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

He knows us far better than we know ourselves…”

Working at The Dale and learning more about God has taught me a lot about prayer. I used to have a very one dimensional view of what prayer should be. Now I am learning that prayer can sound so different for anyone and any situation. They can be guided, pre-written, spoken aloud, or done in silence. And I am feeling comforted today to reflect on the idea that they can be sighs or groans, and in your aching He still knows and is present. This is such a comforting gift.

As I sat in my silent prayer, I decided to listen to some music and turned on some worship music that my friend Joanna had shared with me. There is a band called The Porter’s Gate who has an album called Lament Songs. I turned on a song called How Long? and found comfort in the lyrics. If you’re feeling tender today too, I hope you can find comfort in this worship.

Peace to you this week. The world is hurting and tender. It is okay to not know what to say. It is okay to let some of that burden go. It is okay to feel sadness and pain. It is okay to look for hope. I pray today that you may sigh and breathe out knowing that our God is one that hears and knows, even in the groaning. Amen.


I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this work, I must fundraise my own salary. This is only possible through financial gifts from supporters like you. You can visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/ to give to my work here, indicating that the donation is for me. With much thanks!

Finding Love in a “Collapsing System”.

If you’re in this “sector” as some would call it, or have watched the news lately, you may have seen a lot of talk about Toronto’s shelter system and how it has collapsed. Having worked for one of the finest (in my opinion) shelter’s in the city myself, and having a husband who works for the same one, I’ve had a lot of thoughts swirling in my head, heart, and gut about the language being used in the media to portray shelters.

I wholeheartedly agree that the shelter system is not perfect. There is a serious lack of resources, money, compassionately trained staff in some spaces, and beds enough for the large need that exists that leaves many unhoused people sleeping outside in these horrific temperatures. This is all also part of a larger conversation that requires room to talk about how shelters are only supposed to be temporary, and that an important piece of the puzzle is more housing that would be affordable for more people. Anyways. I am not going to sit here and pretend to be an expert on the subject.

I am however an expert on my own feelings. There is sadness, grief, confusion, and anger that arises in me when I hear the language being used around shelters, when it is in fact the city, politicians, and leaders that need to hear a lot of the conversations that are happening, which are very much important. I hear “the shelter system has collapsed”, followed by conversations around lack of affordable housing. I hear “shelters are in constant outbreak”, followed by conversations about lack of masks and testing being done by the city. I hear “there are not enough beds”, followed by conversations about how there needs to be more housing, NOW.

I agree, there is a lack of affordable housing. There is a lack of safety resources to keep unhoused people safe, let alone the rest of society including kids. There is a need for more beds and housing now. However, there are also a lot of real people working behind the “collapsing” shelter system that are working really damn hard in these systems that are lacking big time, and are making a really big difference.

I may be biased, but my husband Ian is one of those real shelter workers working so hard every day, along with his amazing staff team – and he’s pretty great. Ian cares so deeply for every resident, and has worked at Gateway men’s shelter for 10 years in a variety of roles. Through the Pandemic and beyond, he has been put at risk in a variety of situations. He has worked really long hours like a lot of drop-in staff, been triggered for different reasons, has worked alone to check on people being housed, and now works directly with the city to build compassionate relationships with unhoused people outside in order to work towards housing. He is amazing at his job.

The front of The Gateway shelter where Ian spends his days

To broadly say that the system has collapsed and point fingers at shelters fully dismisses the hard work, risk, fatigue, grief, and burnout many shelter workers are facing trying to work within a system that is struggling. This system surrounds them and contains much bigger issues that a single shelter or worker can fix on their own.

Advocates have important jobs. It is because of advocacy work that big change happens over time. And the divisive language that I feel, and my colleagues feel, being so closely connected to the shelter system is harmful and disappointing. I wish there could be a third way. One that is filled with grace, love, hope, and connection. Not one that talks down to people when it is the system that really needs a shake up.

These are the things on my heart. I hope that even if you disagree that we can come together and have conversations built on love. Because in the end, this is why I was called to this work. Through and from love.

With peace,

Meg

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this work, I must fundraise my own salary. This is only possible through financial gifts from supporters like you. You can visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/ to give to my work here, indicating that the donation is for me. With much thanks!

Weariness Comes and It’s Okay.

Today, I am feeling weary. I had a hard morning with Charlotte as it goes sometimes when one lives with a toddler. She is potty training, teething, just two, and pre-verbal. A hard combo for a little soul. And a hard combo for a tired mom and dad. Alas, she is now with her grandparents, so Ian and I have some refuge this evening.

After that hard and emotional morning, taking the blow of her relentless anger, I took a rapid test (which I am privileged to have access to for work at the moment) – it was negative. But Ian and I had a funny moment where we sent each other a picture of our negative tests and I thought, “When will this end?”

Two negatives, and a thanks be to God.

I then geared up to head off to work, leaving the house like a tornado ran through it which I hate to do. I put on my sweater, then my headphones, then my N95, then my scarf. Wait the scarf knocked my N95. Scarf and mask off. Scarf on. Mask back on. Headband, jacket, backpack. Now I am sweating and foggy. I walked to the subway and it was empty, a sign of no kids in school and more restrictions. I’ve had the same mask on since arriving to work at 9:10 and I won’t remove it until my coworkers and I eat lunch together in our large room more than 6 feet apart. This is the only time I will see their faces today.

We check in, type, walk, work, pray, laugh, cry behind these masks again and it feels strangely like when I came back to work in October of 2020 after my maternity leave. I miss praying with my coworkers without the cover of a tight, squishy mask. I miss not telling community again and again to space out in line when we are used to sitting shoulder to shoulder eating a meal. I miss our old life.

All of this to say, today is a weary day. This happens to many of us after Christmas. Yes the days are slowly but surely staying light for longer. But it is colder and wintery-er. Fatigue comes. It’s harder and takes longer to get outside. There are less people to see as this Pandemic literally drags on. I fear Ian or I getting ill from work or transit. Toddlers are lovely and hard.

And it is okay that it’s hard and weary. It is okay to go through seasons with hard phases. It is okay to wade through grief with heavy limbs. It does not mean I stop praying or thanking God. It does not mean I don’t recognize the privilege I have in having access to masks and tests. It does not mean I love my kid any less. And it certainly does not mean that I forgot to lean in to the strength of the Lord. It just means that I do all of these things with a heavier heart. And that’s okay.

May you find peace if you are feeling weary today too.

Love, Meg

PS: You know when you’re having “one of those days” and you do something trivial but annoying…. on top of my weariness, I sliced two fingers open doing the dishes. Thank goodness Joanna is efficient in her first aid skills 🙂

___

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. I must fundraise for my entire salary in order to do this work! Please consider partnering with me as a financial supporter and walking alongside me on this journey. Visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/.

Choosing Joy.

This week in the advent calendar, we are focused on Joy. This time last year, I wrote a blog about the death of Ian’s mom who died on the third Sunday of Advent (which just so happened to also be the week of Joy last year). Joy was hard to find at that time, as Christmas crept closer and our arms were heavy from carrying an unimaginable grief. Much has changed. Charlotte is older and growing, the grief from the death of Ian’s mom is still present although it feels less heavy, and Covid has made progressions in terms of vaccinations and less restrictions – to name a few things. However, I find myself still searching for joy this week with somewhat of a heavy heart.

This time of year can be really difficult for so many reasons. Many folks in our community are feeling the sadness that comes with being estranged from family. We are having a memorial today to remember all of our friends that died during the Pandemic. Covid still lingers, although it is always changing. There are hard conversations to be had. There are many reasons that this time of year can feel so dark, even though Christmas songs ring out loudly and lights blare from trees and homes.

On Sunday, Erinn spoke about Joy. She talked about how joy is not just an emotion to feel or not to feel. It can be. But in terms of Advent, Joy is knowing that God is near. Jesus is coming. These times are literally quite dark (does anyone else feel overwhelmed knowing the sun sets at 4:30?). But we can experience Joy in knowing that Jesus is coming soon and He is bringing the light. That change in perspective does not change circumstance in things that are heavy. But for me, it was enough to provide a new mindset and some hope. There is heaviness, and that is okay. There is also Joy in knowing our Saviour is coming and that He knows what it is like to be vulnerable.

Knowing this, I can choose joy. Our friend Dan wrote a song that we often sing at The Dale. It goes, “Choosing joy — to You I run
Choosing joy — for what’s to come
Choosing joy — this I do
Just because I love You”

Sometimes I really need to choose joy, the emotion. I can see it in my daughter when she visits The Dale like she did this past Sunday and hugged every single person outside. I can feel it when we finally have a space to come together to grieve our friends in a collective way, whatever that looks like for each person. I can sense it when my team gathers on a Monday to check in and pray together. I can feel it in the love I have for Ian that we have worked so hard for over this past year. There are so many things.

I know this time is chalked with loud happy music, bright lights, gifts and a sense of urgency. I know what it’s like to find excitement in that and for it to also feel unreal and fake when your hands and heart feel grief, much like mine did last year at this time. And I know, for me, that it helps to know the true meaning of Joy in this season, that Jesus is near. We only have to wait a little longer.

Peace to you as we wait.

Charlotte at The Dale after our service!

I am a community worker at The Dale. To do this work means I must fundraise my entire salary. Please consider joining my support team! If you sign up to be a financial supporter or increase your donation in the month of December, you will be entered for the chance to win a painting done by me! Feel free to email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com for more information!

Just Another Day at The Dale.

We have an expression amongst our staff team at The Dale that we’ve turned into a hashtag, “Just Another Day at The Dale.” It often comes out when we are doing odd things or redundant things or things that would be hard to explain to anyone else. It is when we find ourselves in one of these times and laugh together that I find myself blessed by the odd jobs we sometimes take on in our work with community.

A couple of weeks ago we received a call from a community member. She had broken a button on one of the couple of pants she owns. This woman has had many of her belongings for years and years. She repairs rather than buying new for many reasons, and so was hoping that we could fix the button on her pants. Joanna said she would give it a go, and she not only fixed them but she did such a great job that our friend brought another pair to us with the same issue. We were given a little gift for our repairing skills (which was unnecessary but so sweet) and the satisfaction of helping a friend. #justanotherdayatthedale

Jo fixing our friend’s pants!

A couple of years ago, our friend Chevy who has now passed away, was in the hospital for an extended time. At the time she had maaaany a number of pets including multiple cats and a feisty little dog, Jacob. We offered to pet sit for her in an effort to convince her to remain in the hospital and ended up in an almost daily rotation with some other community members in order to feed her beloved pets for months on end. #justanotherdayatthedale

There are so many instances where these odd jobs come up… I have handfuls coming into my head. So many times where we shake our heads and chuckle at the odd thing we are doing, the moving around taking place, the situations we find ourselves in, the love we share with our friends, and silly situations. But while some of these instances are silly (ie: moving frozen meat from one place to the next over and over), there are many more that are just our life.

Accompanying someone to get ID, bringing cleaning supplies to someone’s place and a helping hand, laying hands on a friend’s leg to pray over them in hospital, sharing a meal, reading scripture, playing guitar in the park, moving items from storage… even fixing a button on a friend’s pants. These aren’t simply just tasks to be done to fill our week. They are moments of vulnerability and trust happening. They are acts of love. They are teaching moments and confidence boosters. They are giving and receiving. They are community work.

I am so glad to be in community at The Dale. I am so glad for silly jobs and #justanotherdayatthedale moments. And for serious, life giving, community building, kingdom work that draws us closer together with each other. For as many hands as I lay on my friends to pray, I have been prayed for abundantly in return. That is a beautiful gift I will always cherish.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale! In order to do this work I must fundraise my entire salary. Please consider joining my support team by emailing me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com. If you join my support team in the month of December, you will be entered to win a painting done by me!