The Dale’s story is being shared by others with some frequency as of late. There have been a number of articles written, none of which we’ve pursued beyond being open to participating in the process. I have to admit that it is equal parts wonderful and terrifying. Wonderful because our philosophy of ministry and community is being discussed; terrifying because it might be possible that we be misrepresented (this hasn’t happened, I just know it could) or misunderstood. Further, it could appear as though The Dale is being put on some kind of pedestal, or worse, that I am being put up there with it.
I have been involved in this kind of work since before I finished my post-secondary education. I have seen and think it important to acknowledge that in this sector there lives the real danger of arrogance: the kind that arises out of living and working in an edgy environment, believing that we somehow “get” life more than some. This can get fed too when others applaud and say, “It takes a special kind of person to do this work- it must feel so good to be constantly giving of yourself”. Compliments are not a bad thing to receive, they can turn sour though when turned into an inflated ego. Plus, it’s not true: this is not about me just giving. It is more often about me receiving more than I ever give.
I desperately want the narrative of my life to be one that mirrors the life of Jesus, one where success has a decidedly different definition than the world’s. Jesus taught on hillsides, spent time with those considered undesirable by polite society and quietly healed illnesses and hearts. I don’t want my life to be about how much money I make or the amount of stuff I accumulate. I am repelled by the idea of celebrity. Sadly, though I want to be like Jesus there is a real internal battle for the opposite.
Which is why it will always be of the utmost importance that I remain close to the street, for here I am reminded that I am no different. My every day life is spent doing what many would consider mundane: I chat, I cook, I clean up spilled coffee. I also see and do things that some might not have the opportunity to do: I help someone dumpster-dive or accompany someone to court or hold the hand of someone detoxing. There is nothing glamorous about what I do. I also know that any number of my Dale friends would do the same for me.
One of the greatest gifts of all the publicity is that it reminds me of what’s important: being in a community where we can acknowledge our brokenness and decide to journey together toward deeper wholeness in Christ, humbly and with inevitable missteps along the way.