Then and Now

Lately, I have been feeling reflective about the journey that has been The Dale. It was nearly seven years ago that we gave up our leased space and became a nomadic community. At the time (and maybe still) many thought it a crazy decision on my part. I could feel the skepticism. I don’t think anyone wanted us to fail, I just think some wondered how it could possibly work.

I remember being scared for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the thought of messing things up. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to close down and yet I knew that to be a very real possibility. It seemed wise to set markers in the first year, ones that if not met would signal the plan wasn’t working. Looking back, I am struck by how often we were surprised by grace, again and again experiencing unexpected provision.

I know that God invited me to step in to a role that I would never have considered myself for. I felt inadequate and strangely determined. Fortunately, I was and continue to be surrounded and supported by my family, a Board, and our precious community. I continue to learn from Jesus’ example that to lead I must serve, a posture that is messy, challenging and necessary to choose repeatedly.

At my ordination examining council a community member said, “Erinn is no stranger to suffering, and so she can walk with us”. What a relief that I get to be a part of a community where that is valued. I don’t need to pretend that everything is easy, when everything is not. Together we are discovering what it means to lament well, to practice gratitude, to engage in prayer, to feast together, to admit our failures, to apologize and forgive, and to be transformed by God.

Last week The Dale led a workshop at Assembly, the annual gathering of our denomination. During the debrief time near the end, I sat at the front alongside our team: Joanna, Meagan, Pete, and our two interns, Jan and David. Six of us. Even as I type that I have to stop and take it in. Seven years ago, I was alone. I can’t help but weep tears of wonder.

It is a privilege to be a participant in the work of The Dale. Thank you to everyone, past and present, who has been a part of the journey. I have tucked our many stories in my heart and love knowing that there are countless more to come.

Remembering Keith

I got the news shortly after getting home from a brief retreat with Joanna and Meagan. I audibly gasped. My long-time friend Keith Pittman had succumbed to injuries sustained from a bike accident. I immediately thought about our most recent interaction, just weeks ago. He looked good. Happier than I’d seen him in a while. Hopeful.

I met Keith in my earliest Parkdale days. He was wearing a ball cap and sitting on some steps, surrounded by what we called the crew- many people we have already said farewell to. I quickly detected his Newfoundland accent and told him of my honorary Newfoundlander status (even though I’m a Mainlander from Toronto). We immediately connected about things like Jigg’s Dinner, bottles of moose meat, and the smell of salt-water air.

Once a track-and-field guy, Keith spoke often of his running days that came to a halt due to an injury. He even set what I believe were provincial records- ones that he was proud to show me on-line. Sharing about those days seemed to make him grin and wince at the same time.

Keith was very open about what he called his “demons”. We had long talks about them, and his regrets. Our time often ended with his prayers. If his children stumble upon this one day: I want you to know that he tearfully spoke of you frequently over many years. I’m so sorry that the journey was such a difficult one for him, and for you.

I will miss Keith: his striking eyes, the way he would inquire about my life (“how ARE you my’love?”), seeing him bike around the neighbourhood. I have already caught myself thinking I see his familiar gait in the distance. I’m sad, just as many people are about Keith’s death. I extend my condolences to his family.

I’m not sure that Keith realized his impact. I hope he did. I also hope he’s now running like the wind, finally out of pain.

Keith Pittman
May 16 1964 – June 4 2019

On-Line Auction 2.0

I am passionate about the work that we do at The Dale. Did you know that in order to make it all happen, we have to fundraise? The Dale is sustained by the contributions of many individuals, churches, businesses, and grants. We have no government funding.

Today we are launching an On-Line Auction. We held our first auction last year and had so much fun, that we decided to do one again! Please enjoy checking out all the wonderful items, each one donated to benefit The Dale. Do you keep getting out-bid? There is also a way to make a direct donation.

Thank you to everyone who believes in and supports The Dale in such a variety of ways. Our community members are at the core of it all, bringing their own unique gifts to keep this place going. We are grateful.