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.