“My life is all kinds of crazy”. That’s a line I hear a lot around The Dale. The more I hear it, the more I am convinced that this is true for all of us. Life is this wild ride of things that can be good, bad and everything in between. There is a time for everything: a time to weep and laugh, mourn and dance, be silent and speak. I don’t know about you, but for me the various times often overlap, rarely being entirely one or the other.

I feel so privileged to be entrusted with people’s stories of life. Some days I hear story after story, each one full of various regrets and loss, peppered with joy and glimpses of hope. More and more I am being asked to share these stories (most times leaving out identifying facts) by the community. I do this with caution, feeling the weight of responsibility to not misrepresent my people. I know though that they are entrusting me to be, in many ways, their voice.

With that in mind, consider the current reality of some of my friends:

: “Sarah” is completing community hours at the drop-in so that her charges will be dismissed by the court. The closer she gets to freedom, the easier it is to relapse into addiction and the sex trade. Pray for her. The good news is that she loves working in our kitchen and asked if we would “let her” continue helping out. The answer is an emphatic YES.

: “Dave” is dealing with serious health issues that have plagued him for years. And by dealing, I mean finally not ignoring them. Dave has buried every single one of his family members, making his getting help a huge step.

: “Harry” has found someone to love and is amazed that she loves him back. The two cannot be together right now because she has been hospitalized for mental health issues. He looks at pictures of them from last summer when she was able to laugh and smile, hanging on to the hope that this summer might bring the same.

: “William’s” alcoholism is eating away at his health. He is exhausted from sleeping in stairwells and longs to have a different kind of life. For years he has needed to ask me/The Dale for money, tokens and food. Today he handed me a twenty-dollar bill. I couldn’t refuse, knowing this was an opportunity for him to be the giver instead of receiver. He walked away with a spring in his step.

Such circumstances might seem completely foreign to some of you. That’s understandable. Notice though in each story how the light meets challenge: there is an element of hope in each, however little it might seem. When I consider my own story I see the same. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance, and as another author once put it, sometimes it’s the same time.