I think it is difficult to convey how something makes me feel. The Dale’s annual February Feast happened last Saturday, and it made me feel A LOT of feels, the kind that if I could bottle them up and share, I would. I caught a smattering of photos, but that doesn’t quite capture it either.
For many years we have chosen to save our big turkey dinner for February, rather than December. There are simply so many meals of this type going on around Christmas, but in the dead of winter? Not so much. To add to the festivities, we also have an Open Mic. This is an opportunity for anyone to perform, and we applaud the courage to do so.
We had enormous support from a variety of people for this event. Groups from two other churches volunteered to help cook, set-up, serve, and clean-up. I loved seeing Dale community members chopping potatoes alongside new friends. Over the course of the evening, I noticed how the differences between these volunteers and the rest of the community became increasingly muted. There was a palpable sense of connection in the room.
Vibe Peace, a collective The Dale is newly acquainted with, led an art jam throughout the evening. They brought all the art supplies and set up two tables where everyone could contribute to three separate pieces. I have to say, collaborative art is one of my favourite things.
While we ate, listened to some amazing musicianship, conversed, performed and created, there were hard things happening too: some needed tokens to get to their shelter bed, or coats to survive the cold. Others were reeling at new loss in their lives. And somehow, many of those same people found respite for a few hours. More than one person expressed how amazed they were to be feeling genuinely happy, even briefly.
One of my favourite moments was when one person bravely sang parts of Country Roads by John Denver. She later told me, quoting the song: The Dale is “the place, I belong”. That, along with so many other moments made my heart full. I found myself stopping to just listen and take it all in. I long for a community where every tongue, tribe and nation are together; where socio-economic lines are blurred; where we are more aware of the ways in which we are alike, than different. On February 9th I caught a glimpse of that. It was a good night.