Inhabiting a Neighbourhood by Sharing Space, Inside and Out

When The Dale gave up its own space a decade ago, one of the first questions people asked was: where are we going to go? A legit wondering. At the time, I didn’t yet know. Fortunately, the weather was improving and so I said, “if we have to, we’ll have drop-in at the park”. I also started to knock on the doors of buildings around the neighbourhood to see if there might be a willingness to open those doors to us. That was the beginning of inhabiting Parkdale in a new way.

People often ask me if we would now buy a building if we could. While I acknowledge there are definite cons to not having a space of our own, the pros outweigh them. Does that mean I am anti-building? No, absolutely not. The Dale relies on the buildings of our partners to do a lot of what we love. Also, I never want to belittle the importance of “place” for the many members of our community who do not have any to call their own. By not investing in the purchase of a building, The Dale can pour our resources very directly into what we do, while also supporting those who share property with us.

When The Dale spilled into the streets, we had the opportunity to learn from our core community about what it means to be transient. This was very important, especially for someone like me who, despite my proximity to people who are under-housed, have always had somewhere to lay my head. We also re-discovered the truth that the church is not a building. One Dale member would regularly remind me that, “we are living stones. Where we gather is less important than THAT we gather.”

I appreciate the pedagogy of my friend Jason McKinney around the power of property and the need to shift from having to holding. Jason’s church, Epiphany and St. Mark is the only building currently open to The Dale due to the pandemic (we trust our other partners will begin to re-open as the pandemic continues to settle). I see how he and his church are navigating away from the paradigm of property to the paradigm of commons, in other words they are helping create a community hub. The Dale is one of a number of organizations that reside at and co-create in 201 Cowan Avenue. I know the desire is to continue to grow in the way we all relate to and negotiate with land- land that was not ours to begin with. Together we are discovering how to deepen our responsibility and care for the ground we stand on.

Which is also why it is so important that The Dale’s largest presence is outdoors. When we were permanently housed the people had to come inside to find us. Now we go outside to find our people and it is where they know to look for us. It matters that we get rained and snowed on together, that we can share a snack in the park, that we can slow down and linger for chats anywhere along the street, that we can grow things in our community garden plot. We move from observation of the neighbourhood to participation in it.

Is this an easy way to operate? Not always. Is it messy? For sure. I can honestly say though that not having a building, which was definitely born out of crisis, has turned into one of our greatest gifts. Also true is that becoming a part of a larger community hub, both at Epiphany and St Mark and in other spaces around the neighbourhood, one of our greatest joys. We get to witness amazing things happening all over the place and grow in our awareness that love is present all around us: in and out of a building.

Snippets from Seattle

It’s very early in the morning. The sun is rising and starting to stream in the window of my hotel room. I am in Seattle, a city that is new to me. I was supposed to be on a flight home early today, but it got cancelled and shifted in such a way that while I will be on a plane this afternoon, it won’t get me to Toronto until tomorrow. And so, I have some time to begin unpacking what the last few days have been like.

A conference called Inhabit by the Parish Collective is what brought me here, a gathering of people that are exploring what it means to be church in the (your) neighbourhood, with an emphasis on the sharing of stories to build communal imagination. As one who strongly believes in the power of narrative, I was grateful for the opportunity to talk about The Dale. For me this always means centering the people of our community in the story and bringing to life what journeying together means for us, in all of its messiness and beauty. 

My emotions felt much like that throughout the conference: messy and somehow beautiful. I arrived into the space kind of giddy with expectation. Like so many, this was my first trip of this kind since before the pandemic and I felt really excited to be with people. I also arrived rather tender. There is a lot of big transition in my life that is still very fresh and will take time to navigate and settle. Entering any space as your full self is vulnerable. If I was going to embrace this experience as I hoped, it meant being willing to experience a real variety of things, including fun, seriousness, quick hello’s, deep conversation, questioning, laughter, early mornings, late nights, and tears. 

Anyone who knows me (or even sometimes who has just met me) will attest to how easily I cry. Though this is true, I was taken aback by the force and frequency of my tears while here. Sometimes it was a song or a story. Most often it was in conversation, either while a person attentively listened or shared back with me their own challenges. There was a relatively brief group exercise that we were invited to do which led to a disarming moment of connection. A lot of people offered me unprompted words of encouragement that were exactly what I needed and shockingly on point. I am prayerfully working through all of this. 

I find that when I am attentive to my sadness, it actually opens the door for great joy. Inhabit was that too. We got to walk the city and eat meals together, share cab rides and drink coffee. There was much stimulating conversation about faith, church, psychology, neighbourhood, equity, along with so many other things. I had a variety of encounters with people living outside, made friends with two little girls at a dance competition in the same hotel I was staying at who invited me to watch their routine (I sadly couldn’t), and met someone who goes to my cousin’s church- reminding me yet again that the world can actually be surprisingly small. 

It was amazing to be in Seattle with a group of Canadians who are my beloved friends and encouraging to connect with other folks from up north, expanding the circle. Our group knows how to party, and so we brought that energy too. I am also grateful to have been embraced by so many people from the US. This was a special few days. Though I am admittedly exhausted in this moment, the energy percolating is real. The processing has just begun. 

A Good Board: Creativity and Courage from Behind the Scenes

It is a moment I will never forget- being asked to step into the role of Executive Director at PNC, now The Dale. I had not aspired to such a job, though I somehow knew deep down that it was right. Despite being terrified, I said yes to the Board. I knew they were taking a risk, especially given the dire financial position we were in. Now ten years later we bear witness to the ways The Dale has risen out of the ashes. We are solvent and very active. I remain indebted to them for daring to believe in me, and the resiliency of our amazing community.

A key component of The Dale is our Board of Directors. They are a diverse group with a common purpose: to love and support our work in Parkdale by providing oversight and accountability. Their work is largely behind-the-scenes, and includes watching the finances, acting as our legal voice, supporting me and equipping the staff as a whole. I witness how they exercise care, diligence and skill in our meetings. When there are difficult decisions to be made, they work hard to talk through all the scenarios while steeping it in prayer.

I can’t talk about the Board without naming the care and love they offer me. They are a safe place to transparently share the challenges I face, both at The Dale and outside of it. When my mom died, they were at the funeral. During times of crisis, meals arrive at the door. They are always willing to hear what I need, or if I don’t know, help me figure it out. I can cry with them. And joke. And strategize. And dream big.

As we celebrate ten years of being The Dale in 2022, I think it is important to acknowledge The Board. They collectively offer great creativity, courage and compassion. Over the years they have quietly and diligently supported this kingdom work, even when it has been hard and messy. Thank you to previous members: Michael Blair, Keith Bundock, Rob Crosby-Shearer, Angela ElzingaCheng, Anita Giardina Lee, Greg Kay, Christian Otte, and Nate Vawser. And thank you to our current team (pictured below): Matt, Jordan, Gen, Ben, Nic, and our newest member, Xenia.

High five team, both past and present, Deep respect and love for you all.

Matthew Rivard
Jordan Lim
Genevieve Barber
Nicolas Francis
Ben Klinck
Xenia Chan

Let’s Talk About Death

In my experience, we don’t like to talk about death. This is understandable given that dying holds a lot of mystery and is something we would like to avoid. It is scary and sad. The grief it brings can catch us by surprise, so much so that we might try to tuck it away. But here’s the thing: death is desperately and devastatingly real. We cannot hide from it. I think there is something very important about sharing our sorrow and creating space to explore it together. While this won’t change the undeniable power of death, it can influence how we view death and the way we live.

I am no stranger to death. I have been with people when they took their last breath. I have identified people in the basement morgues of hospitals. It is not uncommon for me to lead funerals. Rarely would I describe a death as coming at what might be considered an appropriate time. No matter how frequently I see death, I am always struck by how obvious it is that the person is gone. This is true even when I can briefly imagine them getting up, probably because I cannot compute that they won’t.

In Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, she says “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death.” For me, the days between death and the funeral feel like a liminal space. It’s almost as though the person who has died remains very close, especially in the making of arrangements, sharing the news, and gathering with friends and family. Then the reality of loss settles in.

Today is known as Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter. Jesus is dead, his body placed in a tomb. For those of us who follow Jesus, we believe that by tomorrow this story changes. He will be alive. Because we know this, it is easy to rush to Easter. I find it helpful, however hard it might be, to sit in the grief of this day. In a sense it is another liminal space, where I can reflect on the hopes which linger and the prayers which are yet to be answered. It forces me to consider who I am and what is important, propelling me to live (however much I may stumble) as authentically and faithfully as possible.

My faith tells me that the death we know now is not the end. I cling to this. In the meantime, death continues to be a thing. It would be false to say it does not scare me at all, because though I have been close to it, I still have no idea what it is actually like. What I do know is that death brings grief and mourning, which together are usually described as bereavement, meaning to rob. Death does that- it robs us of what we love, while also providing the opportunity for us to express that love. And love generates love. On this Holy Saturday I am going to think about that.

Building the Trust of a City Street

Imagine that the sun is shining and there is a light breeze as you and I set out on a walk around Parkdale, a Toronto neighbourhood. This is the place that The Dale inhabits, a section of the city that is in the west-end, and just north of Lake Ontario. We start at 201 Cowan Avenue, an address that belongs to Epiphany and St Mark Anglican Church, but is used as a sort of “commons” for a variety of organizations, including Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Greenest City, Flick the Switch Art Studios, a social enterprise kitchen called Aangen, and The Dale.

We meander across the street to a park with a concrete wading pool, a play structure, a concrete table that gets used either for ping pong or sunbathing, and the HOPE Community Garden in which The Dale has a plot. I share that we tend to grow a lot of herbs, lettuce, and some tomatoes, though last year we tried our hand at miniature pumpkins. Right now, the garden lays fallow, though it will soon be time to plant. To me, this spot feels like a bit of an oasis.

I invite you to walk north on Cowan to Queen Street West, one of the main thoroughfares through Parkdale. There is a community centre to our left, and a Public Library on the right. We run into a friend who is sitting on a bench. He tells us about what is being served for lunch at St. Francis Table (most of us refer to it as “The Table”), a Franciscan Friar run restaurant where you can get a good meal for $1. I suggest we head that way in order to notice the contrast between St. Francis Table and the very hip and high-end restaurants that litter the same block.

This dichotomy is apparent throughout our walk. Once one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the city, Parkdale shifted to be known as gritty and well-acquainted with poverty. While there were many contributing factors to this, two big ones were the building of the Gardiner Expressway, a highway to our south that made people feel cut off from the lake, and the deinstitutionalization of mental health care (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, once Queen Street Mental Health is very close by), which meant psychiatric survivors were released and subsequently sought home in the area. Now Parkdale is a study in gentrification- the process by which the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, changing housing, and attracting new businesses.

I point out a few things as we walk: the popular vintage store called Public Butter, a poster for a protest about affordable housing, the yellow box that looks reminiscent of a Canada Post mailbox but is a receptacle for used needles. We stop to say hello to a group of people in the parkette beside the Health Centre, all of whom are community members of The Dale. One person comes out from the bushes, where they are sleeping rough. Another engages with you about where you are from and tells you an embarrassing story about me. We laugh. We comment on the nice weather before fist bumping a goodbye.

From here we walk south along a very residential street. I point out how you can tell if one of the mansion like homes is a single-family dwelling or a rooming house. We notice young families, a statue of Mary in a front yard, and Tibetan monks in burgundy robes. I suggest we get some Momos, Tibetan dumplings from a place called Loga’s Corner. I introduce you to the owner who gives a lesson on how to eat one, and graciously adds a few extra to our order.

We wave at the proprietor of the laundromat, chat with people hanging out in a bus shelter, and stand in awe of the woman who feeds the pigeons and has birds hanging out on her shoulders and head. We walk along Jameson Avenue, a street lined with mid-rise apartment buildings. Eventually we end up back on Queen Street West. I invite us to stop, close our eyes and take a deep breath, taking active notice of the sounds and smells of the neighbourhood. As we end up back where we started, we discuss your questions. I share a few more stories. We talk about the obvious diversity and resulting richness of Parkdale. We depart with a hug.

Jane Jacobs said, “The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts… Most of it is ostensibly trivial but the sum is not trivial at all.” The work of getting to know one’s neighbourhood takes intentionality. For me, walking has been integral to becoming connected to and rooted in Parkdale. It is something I have done since 2007 and that as a Dale team we do on the regular. The arguably trivial moments have led to many profound interactions, deep friendships, and a lot of opportunity to love and be loved. I am always glad to walk and love the opportunity to do so together.

Mentorship and Friendship Intertwined

Though we were both living in Toronto, I met Rick Tobias in the 90’s as a young and very new street ministry worker in Calgary at a conference he helped birth. I remember seeing him surrounded by people eager to connect. So many would take note when he entered any room. I attended a workshop that he helped lead, the content of which had me spinning for days. All these years later it remains amazing to me that I can now count Rick a dear friend.

In addition to being a friend, I also consider Rick a mentor. Though we’ve never had a formal mentorship plan, he has certainly functioned as an experienced and trusted advisor. When I took the scary plunge into my current role at The Dale, Rick offered me advice that has stuck with me and I still tell people about. Over the years I have taken challenges to him that I couldn’t see a way to overcome, and together we would formulate a plan for next steps.

Over the years I have been greatly influenced by Rick’s commitment to both compassion and justice. He talks a lot about how there are 2,000 texts in the Bible that address poverty and “the poor”, and how the weight of this Scriptural evidence strongly favours the people who are poor. The vast majority of these texts talk about the wider social issues that contribute to the creation of poverty. He invites people to see that compassion (though good) is not enough- we must move to justice.

Rick has a lot to teach about this move to justice and being compassionate caregivers. As a mentor, Rick encourages and enables my own development. He helps me focus by setting goals and giving feedback. My confidence has grown because he always gently and directly speaks of the strengths he identifies in me. He listens. He does all of these things as a friend too. When crisis struck last August, he and his wife Charis (who I also hold in very high regard) took the time to be available even while enroute back from their holiday. I trust Rick, which I know is a core element of any relationship.

After a recent social visit with Rick, I commented that I should have been taking notes throughout our conversation. He has a way of dropping truth bombs in the middle of a great story. I also love hearing about his motorcycle days, his visits to New Brunswick, his beloved family, and his many years as CEO of Yonge Street Mission. That he is my friend AND mentor is a gift. At the end of our visits I have usually laughed and cried. Sometimes I have a new joke to share. Always, I feel grateful for the time.

Roots and Wings

I remember the first time I met Kimberley (who I usually simply call Kim). She arrived in our former building and was full of energy. Little did I know then that Kim and I would develop such deep friendship and camaraderie. She has been on the whole wild journey that is The Dale. Along the way we have shared countless cups of tea, brainstorming sessions, and walks by the lake. Kim has seen me in the depths of grief, and the heights of joy. We have accompanied one another to things that required support. I even had the honour of baptizing her in Lake Ontario.

At The Dale we talk a lot about how everyone is invited into full participation of the community, and that this looks very different for each of us. We celebrate how unique we each are and the various gifts we have to offer. This is not static either- what we might have the capacity to bring at any given time can change. Kim is a wonderful example of this. She knows her nomadic spirit might call for a while, but she always comes back, willingly inhabits a number of different roles, and arrives as herself.

I am pleased to share what Kim has written about finding a home and developing roots at The Dale. Kim- I am grateful for and love you.

“Anyone who knows me will certainly get a good laugh to hear that my home community and church literally has no walls of its own. Kind of ironic given my nomadic spirit and need to go on adventures a few times a year. The Dale Ministries became my foundation when I could not fit in anywhere long enough to put down roots to build a home.

When I returned to Toronto after being away for several years, I needed to rebuild my life and figure out how to put down some roots. This was at the same time that Erinn needed some self-care time away from work. Since I had a background in community development work, I was able to step into an interim staff role until she was ready to return. When she returned, I decided to stay and continue to be part of the church community that had become dear to my heart, never realizing that her return would also bring a huge change to how we did things. In order to stay stable and grow we would have to leave our home base. In Erinn’s wisdom and inner strength, she knew we could do it and continue with our community while embracing our need to become mobile. So, we downsized our belongings and literally spilled out into the streets, leaving our footprints (in chalk paint) along the sidewalk. We became nomads without walls.

This change strengthened our community in ways we could never have imagined! We connected with other organizations in the neighborhood to host our drop-ins and we met in the park on sunny days and our community grew and developed into a strong extended family for many of us.

In spite of our circumstances we became stable in our mobility, looking out for each other and “breaking bread” with one another when our hunger for spirit and community needs were high. And we grew! We have continued to grow, even reaching a point where we have needed to take on additional people to help in order to continuously build around our shared community needs. We now have an outreach team which I feel so honoured and proud to be part of.

I now have ROOTS. I now have a home base that has embraced my quirkiness and I have developed strong WINGS because of it. I still have my adventures and yet I also now have my foundation in my spirit as I return to a community that embraces me as I am. Ironically I am the most stable I have been in my life and I am so grateful for how the Dale Ministries has shown me the light at the end of the tunnel, and that I can now say I am home and WE are family!

Blessings, Kimberley”

Erinn and Kim

Keeping it Real on a Sunday

It’s a Sunday at The Dale. The first thing we do is get the “nave” ready, otherwise known as the sanctuary, for our gathering at 2 pm. Songbooks are placed in every other row. A small wooden table is positioned at the front, on which we put two plates: one with bread and one with little plastic cups containing grape juice. There is a candle too. A community member routinely trims the wick and shaves down the sides, a skill learned earlier in life and now part of their Sunday role. A basket on a stand is placed to the left side of the table for our offering. 

There is a beautiful grand piano that I get to play during the service. Behind me is a community member who plays the guitar (he likes to call it his “godtar”), usually with an amp precariously placed on a stool. This friend prefers to do the intros and likes to wail throughout. We invite people to choose songs at various points in the service. We usually start with at least three, because folks LOVE to sing at The Dale. 

We mean it when we say, “come as you are”, and so everyone arrives with a variety of things going on. Sometimes this is especially messy. It can mean having hard conversations in the foyer, or dealing with a conflict, or simply listening because someone is desperately sad, or leading a person to a spot where they can begin to sober up. Sometimes I am the one who feels overwhelmed with life, which is true on this day. 

Given all of this, we choose to start our time together in silence each week. Though the space is not always entirely quiet, the point is to begin the work of settling our own hearts and minds and re-adjusting our gaze. Then we sing, we offer one another peace (which is helpful on those days we aren’t feeling very peaceful), we are given opportunity to share what we are grateful for or are struggling with, we pray, we listen, we offer gifts (everything from money to coupons to mittens to little notes that say, “I will give a smile to everyone I see this week” or “I will help hand out the meals on Monday”), and we share communion. On this day a disagreement occurs between two people but is rectified during the prayer time with astonishing transparency and repentance. 

Today we considered the parable of the Prodigal Son. Which son do we identify with? The one who left? Or the one who stayed? We think about how we sometimes do unhealthy things that we need to stop doing, and also how we are invited to turn away from the failures, guilt, or regrets that bind us to the past, the sorrows and losses that keep us from being fully alive, or the fears that control our lives and keep our world small. We are invited into the warm embrace of God, whether we are the brother we went away, or the one who stayed. 

There is a strong rhythm to our time on Sundays, though each week is unique. We are co-creating something special: a place that is as safe-ish as possible, and where room is made for the sacred, all are welcome, and voices too often marginalized are centred. I am often moved to tears when I look around at our beautiful motley crew. They know how to keep it real and push me to do the same. For that, and our shared journey, I am deeply grateful. 

525600 Minutes

As we hit a decade of being The Dale, I have been in a reflective mood. Most recently this has been about our staff team. Not everyone might know that ten years ago I was the only staff member. With time that number has blossomed into our current team of four. To say we experience a lot together is an understatement. While each year has brought its own challenges, I think navigating a second year of pandemic life in 2021 can be categorized as unique (though that sentiment is now bleeding into the first few months of 2022).

There are 525600 minutes in a year. As a familiar song asks, “how do you measure a year in a life? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?” I don’t know exactly how many of these minutes The Dale team has been together, but I know the number is high. It is also hard to gauge how many cups of coffee we have consumed, how many bouts of laughter we have shared, how many steps we have walked along Queen Street West, how many pieces of PPE we have worn, how many tears have been shed.

While there is a strong rhythm of life at The Dale, every day brings surprises. Sometimes these are happy: we have a great interaction with a stranger, or the exact thing we are running low on shows up as a donation, or we are invited to do something for a community member that is both random and wonderful. Sometimes these are sad: we can’t find housing for a friend who is exhausted from living outdoors, or we have to call 911, or we get the dreaded news that someone else has died.

So, given the complexity of our day-to-day life, how DO we measure a year? The same song suggests, “how about love? Measuring love? Seasons of love?” Yes. This I can do, not because love is easy, but because there are markers for it, including patience, kindness, a lack of envy, boasting or pride. Love does not dishonour others and is not easily angered. Love protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. I bear witness to how we are working to love one another as a team, including the way we check in with each other and pray together (A LOT). We talk through things. I am confident we have one another’s backs.

Joanna, Meagan and Olivia are precious to me. In 2021 they stood with me during some very dark days, practically and emotionally. I know I can be vulnerable and transparent with them. They support and encourage me in my role at The Dale and even cheerlead my wildest ideas. We are there for each other in all these ways. Last year brought the four of us challenge, fatigue, and grief. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through it alone. Believing that joy is not simply an emotion, we even found it in the hardest of things.

We like to say that life is both messy and beautiful, generally speaking and specifically at The Dale. We want to live into that tension, because both are true- one does not cancel out the other. While I might not remember every moment of 2021, I do identify it as another season of love for our team. I am glad to already be into the next 525600 minutes with them and our community.

Learning to Be a Good Hospital Visitor

There are some hospitals that I know really well: the different entrances, where the elevators are, which area has the best coffee. There are halls that I know will be quiet and I can get away with pacing and praying in them. Sometimes I am greeted by doctors, nurses, and chaplains by name. This is because over the years I have spent a lot of time being with people who have been hospitalized.

Over the last couple of years, visiting hospitals was largely prohibited, or if not, made very challenging. When Dion was in acute care last fall, I had to make an appointment for every visit, and was only allowed to stay for one hour at a time. It was rare to be allowed to visit community members of The Dale, even though many found themselves in the Intensive Care Unit. Only occasionally would being a member of the clergy allow me access. Calling the nursing station to get an update and leave a message became the norm.

Fortunately, this is all changing. Which has got me thinking about the things I’ve learned around being a visitor from those I visit. My mother notably taught me a lot, as one who lived in hospital for the last thirteen years of her life. I remember her coming up with a list of do’s and don’ts, all articulated both gently and clearly (very much her way). I notice myself hearing her voice when I arrive at the door of someone’s room, reminding me to announce my presence and ask permission before entering.

When going to a hospital, make sure you know the visiting policy and hours. If possible, connect with the person you are visiting to make a plan. Also, it is important to understand that, even if it has been a journey to get there, it might not be the right time for a visit. There are any number of things that could make it a bad time: nursing care, a doctor finally being able to do a consult, fatigue, visiting with someone else, needing time to discuss something important with a family member. It will matter that you showed up, even if you cannot stay.

It is good to not overstay. If you call ahead of time, ask how long of a visit is helpful. If you are only able to stay for a short time and know that an extended visit might be hoped for, be upfront about that too. Learn to read cues, for instance, is the person you are visiting starting to nod off? Are they pressing the call bell for medical attention? That could signal it is time to go.

Ask what side of the room is best for you to be on. Often a person cannot easily reposition themselves in bed and if you are on the wrong side, it will take up energy to connect well. If you bring flowers, bring something to put them in. I have seen countless bouquets of flowers falling over because the only container available is a disposable urinal- not the best way to admire such a gift. Be aware that flowers might not be the most appropriate gift if there are allergy concerns, either from your friend or their roommate.

Be careful about how you talk about hospitals. Sharing your terrible experience of one or talking about the bad food is not helpful in the moment. Those stories are best kept for a different and more appropriate time. Every person is unique when it comes to topics of conversation. My mom loved hearing what was going on in my life, or talking about art, or sharing about a recipe she saw on television that I might like to try. Sometimes all she needed was for me to listen, or simply be there and not say anything at all. She would also ask for me to tidy her side table, or retrieve something from the closet, or put a new picture on the wall. Once I was seated, I would ask for her direction about what she needed for the visit to be life-giving.

Just this morning I heard from someone who has been hospitalized and needs a visit. I count it a real privilege to be asked, and am so relieved that the hospital will allow me in. I asked if this person needed me to bring anything, and the answer was no, just myself. This reminded yet again of the importance of practicing presence. It isn’t always easy visiting a hospital, and for some it can be downright overwhelming. If you are the one hospitalized, it can feel extremely vulnerable and lonely, whatever the reason you are there. The truth is, we need each other- in good times and bad, in hospital and out.

My daughter Cate, visiting with my mom.