Generous Compassion

A Dale friend pulled me into a corner at the Wednesday Drop-In, looked at me intently and said, “I want to encourage you”. This friend has the look of someone who has survived a lot. He knows the street and substance addiction. He is also a very good drummer. As he proceeded to talk, I felt he knew exactly what I needed to hear.

It is not uncommon for me to be huddled with people from The Dale in a corner, at a table or on a bench just like I was with this friend. Bystanders will occasionally quietly ask, “what are you doing? You must be helping that person, right?”. I usually respond: “we are helping each other”.

Wednesday was a beautiful reminder of this. I was encouraged to remember that God works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed, is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. I don’t know if my friend realized his words were right out of Psalm 103, but I suspect he did. He went on to pray that I continue to be patient; know that I am loved; and have a renewed understanding that God’s forgiveness is for me too. My friend’s words were genuine and full of grace. 

This kind of generous compassion is what we are all, regardless of economic or social status, called to. ‘Charity’ is not meant to be one way. I hope that I will have a word for my friend when he needs it. Good thing we’re in this together.



It Takes a Team

On Saturday The Dale is hosting a big event that we’ve dubbed our Fun Fair Fundraiser. A lot of planning has gone into this. Like, A LOT. Most of it done by a team of people, namely Ben and Gen (I just realized their names rhyme). They have brainstormed, made lists, produced written material, found donations, the list goes on. I’ve never experienced having a duo like them do so much for an event like this.

Hannah is a woman bringing her food prowess to the kitchen so that people can purchase something savoury or sweet. It’s a big job and she’s taken it on. This, after just completing a large event last weekend. Megarrah is producing banners for each game stall. The Lovelocks are coming, despite a busy day for them. John and Tom are doing the sound. The square dance caller is booked. Sean is willing to sell drinks. Melody and Michelle are making pie. Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, a shop in Kensington Market is rounding out the pie auction.

Our core community is rocking it too. Our regular kitchen team is showing up early Saturday to help Hannah. Terry, a former professional sign maker is busy at work for us. Tim designed the invitation. James wants to sell his art so that he can be a part of keeping this place going. I can’t tell you how many people have said, “I’ll do whatever you need me to”. Our Board of Directors will be face painting, taking pictures, setting up bales of hay and doing whatever else they can to help.

Joanna is doing such a variety of things for Saturday that I don’t know where to start. I have no idea what I’d do without her. I couldn’t do any of this without Dion and Cate, who are present, helpful and so encouraging about The Dale in general and about this event specifically. Cate is assisting me in making props for the photo booth and is sure that if we have enough moustaches on sticks everything will be well.

Each time I see that a friend has shared the invitation or hear that someone is sending a donation or discover that someone is able to come I am thankful. The Dale works because of what I’ve described above: it is a community of people, both at its core and more broadly that fully participates. It’s during a week like this one that I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude at that reality.

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It was not without some fear and trepidation that I wrote my last blog. My need for another set of wheels was entirely dependent on others being able to help provide one. This was not the kind of problem that could be fixed alone. I was amazed at the understanding with which my words were received and moved by the number of people who wrote to ask more questions and offer suggestions.

One person read my plea and remembered a conversation they’d had with someone else earlier in the week. This someone was in the process of buying a new car and wanted to gift their old one to someone else. The only problem was, they hadn’t been able to find anyone to give it to. Whoa. You can probably tell where this is going.

On Saturday Dion, Cate and I went to look at the car. By mid to late November it will be given to us. A huge THANK YOU to the givers of this vehicle. Just writing this makes me weepy.

This whole experience has reminded me yet again of our interdependence on one another. The economy of our culture says that we need to get things via our own hand. The world is all about private ownership. The economy of God, or of Kingdom, is all about building access. Instead of simply being “owners” we are “stewards”.

The car will be steward-ed by us. It will be used to ensure that all the things I outlined before will get done at The Dale and at home. I also want the car to be available to others. Whenever possible, this will be a community car. I am so glad I finally took the risk and asked. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.