The word on the street in Parkdale is that one of our long-time friends and community members has died. We haven’t been able to confirm whether this is fact or fiction, even with calls to the local hospital, police and coroner. And so we wait, not knowing whether to grieve or hope that we’ll see this person magically walk into drop-in tomorrow. It’s a strange set of emotions to navigate at any time of year, but somehow this happening during Advent (the period of waiting before Christmas) makes it even more…poignant.

It was last Monday that people shared the news of this death with me and Joanna. We sat in stunned silence for a moment and then began to ask questions and make phone calls. The two of us then hid away in a small storage room to pray. With a garbage chute on one side and a freezer on another, we looked at each other and then to God. We prayed for our friend and that we would uncover the truth, for a heavy sense of peace in the drop-in, for enough people to do dishes and for strength to get through the day.

By the end of the day we were keenly aware of how there had not been a single need to manage or de-escalate tension. The dishes got done in record time. We had made it through the day. And we still had no idea about our friend. I have been wondering aloud ever since, “Why? Why were some of our prayers so immediately answered? And some seemingly not at all?” It’s not that I would trade the calm that we were gifted- I’m so grateful. It’s that I don’t get why we have to wait [not so patiently] for other answers.

For the last number of years I have completed my Christmas shopping in the fall. I started doing this because I know how busy the season is and wanted to enjoy it without the added stress. In retrospect I realize that this has stripped away any distraction I have from Advent. I am much more aware of the darkness that precedes the coming of the light of Christmas. I honestly don’t find it a comfortable place to linger, and yet I’m asked to both remember and anticipate with patience and hope.

And so I wait. And so we wait. For news of our friend, for prayers to be answered and for our desperately broken world to be fixed.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young people stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

PS If you are from Parkdale and have questions about or knowledge of this community member, please private message me.