being honest.

hey friends,

it has been a while since i’ve jumped on here, and if you’re a regular reader i’m sure you’ve caught on to the fact that i haven’t been writing too regularly the past couple of months. my heart is beating a little faster and my palms are getting a little sweatier because i still find it hard to be honest here sometimes, even though i know being vulnerable with you is what brings us closer together and can bring healing.

to be honest, this summer was hard for me in relation to working at the dale. i don’t think many people know this besides ian, jo and erinn because i haven’t talked much about it online or otherwise. for some reason(s) which i am trying to collect in my mind still, i’ve had a really hard time mentally being at work. i think between planning a wedding, getting married, starting part time at sanctuary again, and moving, etc etc, my ability to connect with my community and dale friends dwindled.

i started to doubt myself, my ability and skills, my reason for doing this work, if i was even supposed to be doing this work, and my God for what felt like leading me here and bailing. it got to the point where i would cry on sunday nights, dreading the week ahead. a couple of weeks ago i finally came clean during a monday morning check in. let’s just say it wasn’t easy for any of us. for me to tell, and for jo and erinn to hear i am sure. there were some tears. however, speaking my truth to my team was a huge deal for me and it lifted a giant weight off my shoulders. they spoke encouragement into me, and erinn and i had a meeting the next day which helped my spirit a lot.

i realized that while i had been so overwhelmed with life things, my capacity to relate to people had left me. i didn’t have the desire to sit and chat with my dale friends, maybe because i did not want to be honest with how i was feeling – that i wasn’t feeling connected in this community. but at the dale, that is one thing we value most of all: being honest in our brokenness, because we are all broken in some way, and holding each other tightly during these moments of vulnerability is really important. as a staff team, we receive lots of love just as much as we pour out.

i realized that instead of dealing with my brokenness, i had been hiding it from my team and i had been retreating from my community. i was in the kitchen a lot, trying to keep busy doing work with my hands instead of sitting with my people and doing work with my heart. and if you know me and us, you know that one piece of advice to anyone coming to the dale for the first time is to sit down next to someone and talk. it may feel like to serve is to always be “doing” something. but sitting down next to someone and chatting, or reading the paper, or eating a meal etc is a HUGE part of serving in God’s kingdom. Jesus did it himself with numerous people! He loved people by being with them.

a goal of mine for the past couple of weeks since being honest with my feelings, has been to step right out of the kitchen and sit at a table with my friends and chat. it’s hard for me still, and i’m not saying being in the kitchen is unnecessary because it is needed and an important part of making a community meal. however, for me, i was really missing that connection with my folks. and since stepping out of the kitchen more, i have felt a lot better. i’ve enjoyed talking with people about movie reviews, asking them how their week was, telling them about mine, passing the platter of food, and talking about our favourite various things.

by stepping into my discomfort and connecting with people again, i have felt a little more like myself. it was a reset that i needed. it will not always be easy and there will still be times i’m sure where i doubt myself. but i am working on connecting with my team and my community more so we can support each other and love each other through all the seasons of change and lifeness.

whew. this turned out a lot longer than i expected and i didn’t know all this was going to come out when i started typing. if you made it this far, thanks for reading and coming along this blog journey with me. i ask for your prayer into the fall as i try to step more into community and out of my shell in the kitchen. i ask for your encouragement and i thank you to whoever is reading this for being on my team. you are so appreciated.

peace to you.

meg

ps: thanks for understanding when my words only flow on here once in a blue moon. i am working on being back here more regularly 🙂

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!

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bless you.

There is a man that stands in the hallway that leads from the bus to the subway at Dufferin Station. I have seen him there on a few different occasions, as I am sure many have who take this route home at this time. He stands, not sits, often asking passers by for spare change. But not always.

Today all he said to the woman in front of me was, “Bless you.” She turned around, not stopping her quick walk, and apologized for not having any money. An acknowledgement, some words, an apology – probably more than this man receives from a lot of folks who pass by him and do not look, do not speak, do not acknowledge. They do not know how or do not care.

But today was different. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t have any money.”

“All I said was bless you, ma’am. Bless you.” The man just wanted to bless this woman, no change required.

How often we are quick to judge someone based on what they look like, what they smell like, what we have seen them ask for many times before. How quick we are to pass by not saying anything or saying the wrong thing because we don’t know what to do. When “these people” are our friends, children of God, human beings full of life and love and soul too. People who can speak and have conversations and like to be smiled at and spoken to, like we all do.

Bless you. All I said was bless you.

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!

let people surprise you.

let the story begin with me admitting that i upset someone on monday at lunch. it was unintentional and unavoidable – at the time i was unable to give someone something that they had asked for. unfortunately, although i tried to be as polite as i could and explain my reasoning, this person was still hurt. due to all sorts of context that does not need to be explained here, i could understand why this person was upset. the result was that i got called a multitude of names and was sworn at a few times.

my outsides let it slide. no, i wasn’t upset, i got where this person was coming from, i’m not hurt by what they said, etc etc. that was a lie. my insides were scared. and a little hurt. i was worried this would change things between this person and i. i was worried they would hold a grudge and be mad for a long time, and the truth is i knew i would most likely have to see them again on sunday, potentially alone, and i did not want to deal with the tension that might occur.

however, what happened next surprised me.

joanna and i were sitting in drop in a couple days later and i saw the person walking towards the building. my stomach fell into my big toes and my heart rate sped up. i told myself to relax but it was only about 15 mins after we had opened and we had 1 hr and 45 mins of a potentially tense and awkward time to endure together if this person came into the room. suddenly there was a knock on the door (lord forgive me, my hard heart did not allow me to get up and answer). the person walked in, stopped in the middle of the room in front of where i was sitting, and said, “i have to say something. i was awful to meagan on monday and i am really sorry about it.” they looked me in the eye, and i looked at them and thanked them for their most honest, not even embarrassed in the slightest to talk openly in front of everyone, and quick apology. they took a seat and looked at me again and said, “im really not a bad person.” i nodded and smiled at them with my eyes in the best way i could because i knew that to be true. and we returned to our normal colouring, talking, breakfast eating selves that day.

i learned a lesson that wednesday morning. we are going to hurt people. whether we mean to or not, that fact is inevitable. this person and i hurt each other in our own way that day but i let my heart be hardened. i was afraid. but my friend surprised me with her love and her ability to reconcile with me so fast. my heart should have been open to it, but i wanted to keep her anger out. by doing that, i almost didnt let her love in. and that would have been a great loss.

i am grateful for the lessons i continue to learn every day. i am grateful for my dale family. we get mad at each other sometimes. we let each other down. but most of the time, we pick each other up. we love each other. and it is a wonderful gift. people will surprise you… remember to let them.

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!

a lost ring.

It happened in a split second. A new friend was visiting the Dale for the first time and generously wanted to help with the dishes after lunch. He grabbed his hand and his eyes widened. “My ring! I’ve lost my ring.”

Suddenly about 5 people were on the floor. Eyes were pacing back and forth looking for a silver ring that could literally have rolled anywhere. “Raven” and I saw it at the same time, and he crawled frantically under the table and handed the ring back to our new friend.

Raven looked at me and said, with his hand on his heart in relief, “It’s his first time here, he wanted to help, and he lost something. But we found it. I am happy now. ”

Helpful, caring, respectful, kind, open hearted. These are just some of the words that describe my friends at the Dale and I am lucky to learn from such beautiful people.

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!

the art of giving.

we sat outside at our one picnic table even though it was so cold and cloudy that every time the sun peeked out we cheered loudly. as usual, there was lemonade and chips and grapes and a group of mismatched friends shooting the breeze. and then suddenly, “TJ” had a surprise.

almost as naturally as if he were breathing, TJ pulled some costume jewelry out of his pocket and started handing them out to the women present at the table. he had found some jewelry in his travels and wanted to give it to us. even though it was found, it was as if he had hand picked the pieces specially for us all.

there were colourful peacock feather earrings for joanna, long feather earrings for “Betty”, a cool triangle necklace for olivia, and simple yet sweet dangly earrings for me. we took our gifts as he handed them to us, put them on right away (even if we were unsure about how they would look) and excitedly complimented each other because actually, we looked amazing. TJ was pleased, and we left feeling lighter and prettier then when we arrived.

TJ is great at giving many things, and not just little trinkets. he is great at giving the gift of music to us all every week. he is great at giving people cards for special occasions. he is great at giving words of encouragement, a helping hand sorting cutlery, or a listening ear. at the dale, we believe that we all have something to give, no matter in what form or shape, and that it is also important for us to receive gifts from our community. this is what building relationships is all about – giving and receiving beautiful gifts such as love, care, support, and joy. our friends are great at giving, and i feel blessed to receive their gifts. i am thankful for TJ and his special way of making us all feel just a little more beautiful.

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!

a letter 2.0

dear me,

today marks one year at the dale for you! you did it! i am proud of you. i know there were days when you thought this anniversary would never come, you weren’t sure if you would make it. there were other days it was easier, and you walked forward towards this with confidence. hold both of those days as important. they got you here.

your community got you here as well and you wouldn’t have it done it without them. some days they really had to stand behind you and push. those words of encouragement, the checking in, the grace and mercy, the love and care. be grateful for your (not so new) community that is holding you lightly on the days you feel heavy. they love you and you love them. even when it’s hard.

those people in your community that believe in you and continue to believe in you, be glad for them. remember how they give you prayer, financial blessings, encouragement… you need to keep telling your story. don’t forget that.

continue to thank god for erinn and jo. this year has been filled with many things, heavy and light, that you walked through together. death, marriage, laughter, tears, hard conversations and easily made jokes. sometimes they all come in the span of an hour. continue to be glad for the bond you are making and that you can look around and see that they are there with you still.

i know you thought you would never be able to fit in here, but you are. when someone says you are family, when someone says they did a good job hiring you, when you get called the dale girls and people mean you too… you are continuing to crease and mold your space in this community. rest in that, but continue to take your time. you now know where the tables go and who sits where. you can sit with someone and be without looking for something to do and that is a huge step for you. those things that felt so foreign are more familiar now. rejoice in that.

there are so many memories, so many people, so much loss already, and so much joy. this will not suddenly become easy. but it will always be good. one year, four seasons, hundreds of new faces, two new teammates and best friends, hundreds of prayers, thousands of steps on queen street, and one whole new year in front of you. may you learn to love people better, may you find your voice when it feels quiet, may you continue to experience grace and mercy, may you make many more happy memories, and may you remember that this is kingdom work and His hands are yours – use them well.

love,

me.


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!

no one likes a jerk.

While my coworkers are away this week, I had the pleasure of sitting in on our bible study on Tuesday night. Our community gathers on Tuesday evenings after a $1 meal at St. Francis Table and studies the Word. Lately, each week a new person offers to lead the group in discussion. This week we were studying 1 Peter 3:8-17, and there was a lot of great interpretation, debate, and conversation. The first verse we read from this portion was verse eight, which reads, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

Near the end of the bible study, as we prayed over the session, our friend who had offered to pray said, “and oh, God… let us be compassionate this week, because no one likes a jerk.” It was a simple and honest prayer. We all nodded amen.

As I have walked through the rest of this week, I have reflected on this specific verse. It’s true that no one likes a jerk. But before we point fingers at other jerks, (you know, the ones on the road who “can’t drive”, those people that cut in front of you in line) we also have to look at ourselves. Peter 3:10 continues, “For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” 

I have not been great at that this week, and it has turned me into a real jerk. With a variety of things going on in my life at the moment, some of which are stressful, angering, sad, and draining, I have let my tongue become evil. I have argued relentlessly with people I love and I’ve struggled with self-worth.

Peter talked about compassion, and having it for others. I also hope he meant we can have it for ourselves. On the days that I feel down and out, when anger is exploding from my mouth and when I feel like crawling under a rock, let me seek peace and pursue it. Let my tongue be kept from evil and let me turn toward the good. That is my prayer for this week, that I would have compassion for my friends and also for myself… because really, no one likes a jerk.

Peace to you this week, friends.

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!

a collection of moments.

I am sat at my kitchen table over my computer thinking of what to write about today to share with you all. As usual, my posed hands have sunken and I am leaning on my elbow with my face on my hand, daydreaming about the possibilities. Coming to mind are a couple of happy, sweet moments that I want to remember and share with you. As the weather remains bleak and cold, and the winter blues continue to linger, here are a collection of happy moments. I know I will be holding them close as little glimpses of light. I invite you to write a collection of moments today too, and hold them close to your heart.

  • we’ve had a little baby bless us with his smiles around the Dale for the past couple of months. he visits us with his mom at many of our drop-ins during the week and has become a delight to all of us. he takes after his mom, with his ease and mild temperament, he is a friend to most everyone he meets. i have the pleasure of carting him around on my hip a couple days a week, and he warms my heart with his little smiles. somehow babies seem to calm a room well too, and we are grateful for our little baby friend who brings joy and light to us these days.
  • the end of drop-in today turned quiet, as people trickled out after eating breakfast with us. we sat with a few friends, and suddenly a fun game started. it was one of those games where you say, “I’m going on a vacation and in my suitcase I will bring a ______”. We sat happily laughing and shouting answers across the table at each other and helping one another remember the list of things we had decided to bring on “vacation”. The quiet moments near the end of a drop-in are usually my favourite, as some of the best memories are made with a couple people sitting around a table.
  • on tuesday at our thrift store coffee hour, we sat around the back table eating pizza out of the box, using coffee filters as plates, and drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows while sitting in teams of two or three to play scrabble, and passing our cute baby friend along. it was peace and beautiful chaos.

In an effort to remember the good times amongst what is often chaos, pain, and brokenness, I am hoping to write more of these kinds of posts. I hope it finds you well, and helps you remember to collect moments of peace and joy in this busy life.

Wishing you a peace-filled week, friends.

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!

treasures.

I was at the Dollarama the other night and ran into one of our friends from the Dale. He was shopping around and when he saw me I greeted him, and in his normal fashion he stopped and looked at me and said in his loudest possible voice, “Hey, Barfy!”

Our friend has many nicknames, and in turn he hands them out to other people as well. Where Barfy came from, I do not know. However, I take comfort in the fact that he uses that name often for others as well!

We talked for a couple seconds as he asked me what I was looking for and asked how Ian was doing. As we chatted he saw something out of the corner of his eye. It was a sparkling circle in the shape of a ring on the floor that obviously had fallen from someone’s pocket or bag and had been discarded without a care in the world. My friend picked it up, inspected it, and proudly put it on his finger. Someone else’s discarded nothingness was now a new ring. When I saw him today for drop-in, he was still wearing it on his finger.

Our friend often finds treasures. Last week he came to drop-in with a box full of discarded electronics and spent the majority of the time picking through the box, plugging in old palm pilots from the 90’s and seeing what still worked. Today he found a broken bracelet in a box of donations and helped me use a twist tie to secure it to my wrist. He thought it looked beautiful. “It’s not perfect,” he said, “but it looks cool!”

My friend has a wonderful talent for picking out imperfect things and making them great. He likes rings and hats, electronics and guitars. He likes giving nicknames to people he treasures, and making people laugh till their stomachs are aching. He sees beauty in simple things, and that is a lovely trait to possess.

I have heard grand stories of my friend’s transformation from the time he first walked into the Dale till now. Sometimes I wish I had been there to see it. While he hates to admit it sometimes, most times, he knows his softly changing heart is from the Lord. And he is changing mine, like many of my new friends have been over the past nine months.

I aspire to see the beauty in simple things, and to make people laugh. I aspire to greet people with charm and excitement, even in the middle of the Dollarama. And I aspire to see the treasures of the world, no matter how small.

From one Barfy to another, Happy New Year. Let’s look for beauty this year.

queen street conversations.

Sometimes walking along Queen Street into Parkdale gives me whiplash.

For the couple of years I lived in Parkdale, I felt able to walk along Queen without interruption and get to my destination without talking to a single soul. Now that I work in Parkdale, I am getting to know the faces and names of my new community as I grow together with my friends in my role at The Dale. I walk along Queen and can’t go far without a head nod or a wave, a “See you tomorrow at drop-in”, or a hug and smile. There are days that I love this about Parkdale, and days that I feel like putting on a cap and sunglasses and running.

However, the sidewalk of Queen Street under my feet is becoming more familiar as we continue to expand our outreach efforts as a team. We have begun walking as a staff team on Thursday mornings with an addictions counsellor from Parkdale Community Health Centre. The four of us walk West on Queen, and East back, talking to many of our friends we pass along the way. So this new routine, along with our regular nomadic routine of strolling through the area to get from drop-in to drop-in, often leads to conversation.

 

We usually pass PARC right before 11am when the food bank opens and get the chance to visit with many of our friends waiting in line to receive food. Although they are waiting to have their bags filled, they fill our hearts with their words and hugs as we pass by every week. We are greeted by our nicknames and asked how our walk is going. We talk about the bible sometimes, what food is hoping to be obtained at the food bank (usually spaghettios), reminders about our weekly schedule, or how things are going at the Dale. We welcome people back who may have strayed from us, and let them know where to find us. We are given poems and writing, hugs, words of affirmation, and happy greetings. PARC is always hoppin’ on a Thursday morning and it’s nice to see friends new and old and catch up in bunches on the sidewalk. To anyone walking by, we may seem like an odd bunch, and we are happy to be that way – diverse and strong in numbers.

Sometimes our interactions are more serious… a friend sits drinking on the ground, sitting in sorrow and in need of some cheer. Another is wondering if God can see past her exterior that others recoil at, and see her for who she really is – as a special, loving soul. Some friends are sitting in their normal spots with hats or cups out for change, and the wear of sitting in those spots day after day is bearing heavy on their hearts. We stand around them, hands on shoulders, and eyes wide as if to convey “we see you. the you that god made. the you that god loves. a child of heaven.”

Sometimes in the hour or so it takes to walk along Queen and back we have laughed full belly laughs and held back tears in the next five minutes. Somehow either way, we are almost always greeted and left with a smile and God Bless. We love our friends, and they love us in return. Queen Street can feel like an alternate universe sometimes full of magical wonder and change. However it also feels like a constant in our lives. One that can bring us joy or heartache. One that we will always walk with hands stretched out, eyes to see, and ears to listen.

Sometimes as I said, I feel like putting on a cap and sunglasses and running though Parkdale. But most days, almost always, it is worth it to take those things off. Because the conversations are worth it. Next time you see one of my friends on Queen Street, say hello and smile. You never know what you’re gonna get.