The Dale is Growing

On behalf of The Dale, I am very pleased to announce that we are expanding! As of the beginning of June, Pete Nojd will be joining our staff team as a Community Worker. We are thrilled that Pete, his wife Frances, and their four children will now be a part of our community.

Along with the Nojd family, we have the pleasure of enfolding the congregation that Pete has been pastoring over the last year and a half: Rendezvous Church. Rendezvous was started by Scott Rourk about ten years ago and has been tended to by many over that time. I know that the decision to close has not been made lightly. I want to honour the long, good work of Rendezvous, and give space for its community to both grieve and adjust to this new reality. Change, however good, is hard. I am grateful for and affirm that, as Pete wrote in a recent announcement of his own, we have “come to the conclusion that God has been at work to bring us together”.

Rendezvous had its last service yesterday and will be joining The Dale on June 2nd. Our folks are already planning ways to make everyone feel welcome- rumour has it there will be a banner and a cake! We invite you to pray that each person who joins us, including Pete, Frances and their children, quickly feel a sense of belonging.

Pete’s role will include supporting our existing programming, mentoring individuals, sometimes teaching on Sundays, and taking up the task of fundraising (something every member of our staff team must do and is admittedly a step of faith). We have identified that as our relationships deepen in the community, so does our need to be present. Having a fourth staff member only grows our capacity to do this beloved work. It also creates space for us to imagine and establish additional programs. There will be room, just as there is for Joanna, Meagan and I, for Pete to carve out jobs that are unique to him.

There will soon be a bio of Pete up on our website. Until then, a little about him: Pete grew up in Brampton, is passionate about and called to Parkdale, loves being a husband and father, has a MDiv from Tyndale University College & Seminary, and is an avid fan of all sports. When Pete first arrived in Parkdale, he contacted us about building a partnership and very quickly began steadily volunteering at our Monday Drop-In. He has already developed many relationships at The Dale and is a very kind and humble presence.

Please join me, Joanna, Meagan, our Board of Directors, and the entire Dale community in saying, “welcome!” We are excited for this next leg of the journey.

Frances and Pete Nojd

Grace Upon Grace

I miss my Mom. I still catch myself wanting to tell her something and for a split second, forgetting that she’s gone. Some days this doesn’t happen and if I’m being honest, it scares me more than the disbelief at her absence. I’m adjusting to her death. And that, though probably healthy, is a hard reality.

I remember so much: the way she greeted me when I walked in a room, her laugh, the smell of her hair, the way she could listen. I can still picture her peeling too many potatoes for our family gatherings because she always worried there wouldn’t be enough (there were leftovers every time). Whenever stacks of mail or artwork or important papers accumulate, I call it a “meaningful pile” in my Mom’s honour.

Sometimes what I most miss are the seemingly mundane moments that were actually very intimate: cutting her bangs, folding her laundry, re-arranging the treasures on her windowsill. I recently stumbled upon an email she sent reminding me to check the red file she kept at her bedside. I could immediately picture it and found myself longing to check it one more time.

My Mom’s grandchildren are growing up. I hate that she isn’t here to be a part of it all. After her death, I went through Mom’s photo stream on her I-Pad. The majority of it was Cate, Oliver, Harrison and Teagan. She loved being Gran to them.

I have faith that my Mom is not really gone and now whole in a way I can’t even comprehend. She worked to live her life well, and near the end, was justifiably weary. I even got to join with our family in journeying alongside her right to the end. All of that matters, and…death sucks. I would like to get up right now, walk down the street, around the corner and into my Mom’s room to be greeted with, “hi sweetie, it’s so good to see you”.

May brings with it my birthday, Mother’s Day, and the anniversary of my Mom’s death. It’s a complicated time. I am thrilled that spring has arrived, I feel fortunate to have lived another year, I love that I get to mother Cate, I celebrate having a step-mother in Susan and a mother-in-law in Beatrice, and I relish in the gift of my mother, Elaine. I also grieve passionately.

My Mom used to acknowledge that while she had experienced much suffering, her identity wasn’t “sufferer”. I found her ability to persevere astonishing. She found so much joy in her faith, friendships, and family. I would like to talk with her more about all of that: how did she do it? She would probably say, “oh Erinn, I don’t know how except for grace”. This Mother’s Day, no every day, I choose to remember that.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

Here is a reminder of my Mom’s gratitude, in her own words.

A Reverberating Wail

A few weeks ago, I was encouraged by a member of The Dale to share what happened at our Palm Sunday service. Palm Sunday is the day in the Christian church calendar when we take our place in the triumphal entry, sing our hosannas, and carry our palms. It marks the beginning of Holy Week.

On this particular Sunday we read Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It turns out that Luke doesn’t mention how the people following Jesus carry or throw down palms along the way. They do spread their cloaks on the road, but there is no mention of palms. He also doesn’t use the term “hosanna”, instead describing the people praising God with a loud voice. One more unique thing about Luke’s account of this day is found in verse 41: “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it”.

I invited us to consider the tearful aspects of Jesus’ entry; how Jesus wept not just for a city, but a condition: ignorance of things that make for peace, prejudice we hold against one another, and the destructiveness of fear. We also talked about how Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62) after denying Jesus three times. How are his tears familiar to us? What does it feel like to confess that our life is not what we want it to be?

A tearful entry into Holy Week means we must acknowledge the state of the world, and our own lives. Not all of us cry in the same way: some (like me) well up easily, others can’t muster a tear but are internally filled with sorrow. Wet or dry, they are both real. Either way, it is difficult work. Jesus’ heart was pierced when he saw the city, as was Peter’s when the cock crowed. When we recognize the reality of our own situation, our hearts are pierced as well.

I don’t know how to describe what happened next. It began as a wail. A person, one who knows the street intimately, whose mind is rarely at rest and had come in looking for help, cried without reserve. The space we use on Sundays is beautiful and large and has very good acoustics. And so, as I cautiously continued, the sound of weeping reverberated off the walls.

Sometimes our heart knows grief and death; guilt or disappointment. Other times it is burdened by the pain of the world and the suffering of another human being; dreams that didn’t come true or broken promises. Life can be hard. It can be marked with poverty, or illness, or loneliness. In whatever way your heart has been broken: you are not alone.

The wailing continued.

We all have stories of sadness. To deny our tears is to deny a part of ourselves the power of Holy Week and the joy of Easter life: life that is marked by forgiveness, healing, and rebirth into new life. On this Palm Sunday our friend who knows what it is to be misunderstood, shunned and poor, led the tearful entry. It was powerful, painful to listen to, and…sacred.

“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it.”