Archives for the month of: June, 2018

We play a fair amount of Scrabble at The Dale. Years ago we inherited a large turntable board that The Salvation Army Thrift Store (the location of our Tuesday drop-in) graciously allows us to keep stashed in a back room. Most weeks it is set up on the table in the Coffee Corner, surrounded by mugs of hot drinks, a few snacks, and a rotating group of interested players. Nine times out of ten we don’t keep score, partially eliminating the competition factor- depending on who you play with.

For some people Scrabble is a new game. It is always interesting trying to describe the rules, especially when we regularly *ahem* loosen them: there must be at least two players and no more than four; the person who draws the earliest letter in the alphabet plays first; the game progresses as each player lays down tiles on the board that make up words that connect to already played words (this might be the most challenging rule to get across); tiles cannot be placed diagonally or backwards; suffixes, prefixes and abbreviations are not allowed, nor are words that require the use of a capital, hyphen or apostrophe.

There are many memorable Scrabble moments for me. A community member once had us play “Christmas Scrabble”, where we were only allowed to play Christmas-related words with an accompanying STORY (which for some turns was how we learned a word could be remotely related to December 25th). I love playing with another friend who reads and writes in a very limited way, but eagerly wants to participate. Oftentimes he will excitedly say, “I’ve got a good one!” to a word that has been entirely made up, his face erupting into the biggest grin.

I love to play games and admit it is where my otherwise non-existent competitive streak tends to comes out. Playing at the Thrift Store has helped me keep this in check. It’s not that I still don’t enjoy a very serious game of Scrabble, it’s that I’ve come to love the very NON-serious style we have at The Dale. I have seen unlikely relationships form as two people commiserate over what to do with seven vowels. We get to be very engaged with each other, while also collectively strengthening our brains. It’s fun. And given the variety of challenges our community faces, fun is a very good thing.

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The Dale is a special place, one that I write about often. We are a community organization and church without our own walls…literally: we do not have a building of our own. You can call us nomads, just nomads with a schedule. The Dale partners with others who DO have buildings and we spend a lot of time outside. It’s a great use of resources, and frees us to do what we do best: foster safe and welcoming spaces for all people, particularly those who are marginalized. We run drop-ins, provide meals, advocate for our friends, offer pastoral care and support, do street outreach, and gather for a church service on Sundays. We invite everyone into full participation, an attempt to have people experience what it means to both give and receive, a value that is too often lost when one is consistently a recipient of charity.

The Dale relies on the financial support of others for everything we do. In other words, we have to fundraise our entire budget. In order to do this we have to boldly ask for people to consider becoming a part of our support network by making a monetary donation. Admittedly this isn’t always easy. What we have found though is that it is also very good.

Which brings me to this: today we are launching an on-line auction, a fundraiser you can participate in from your mobile or desktop. There are a large number of items you can bid on, all of which have been generously donated. It is also easy to make a direct donation. Not in a position to give financially? It would be an enormous help if you would share the link with your own network.

Let’s have fun with this! The auction will run from June 18th to the 25th. Try to beat me to the wide selection of books from Harper Collins, or the tickets to the AGO, or the Dozen Glory Hole Doughnuts, or the COVETED Dale Ministries mug. See you there!

Please go to: https://www.givergy.ca/dale

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Last month I started my MDiv placement at The Dale Ministries. The Dale is a deeply community-rooted church and urban ministry in the Parkdale neighborhood. This ministry in my opinion is especially gifted at re-presenting the love of God made evident in Jesus in practical, relationship-building, and deep, deep soul-enriching ways.

Since I began my placement within this gathering of people I have participated in a unique circle of love that defies my ability to fully articulate. The best I can do is to say that it feels like the most refreshing, desperately needed drink from a life-giving divinely sourced fountain. That. That and so very much more.

There are many ways The Dale lives out it’s calling to its people. However, I have come to see that woven into the vibrant tapestry of life in this community are these three threads: the presence of a shared meal, endless opportunities for people to participate or find joy in a shared creative expression, and the never-ending sharing of wisdom-stories, life hacks and pain borne over the course of people’s earth journey. And as I write this, I see that the common denominator in those three things is that The Dale is where people share: they lay it bare. These people who are quickly becoming deep impressions on my heart, come with the markings of the hardness of their earth journeys. They gather to stop, rest and unload some. In the one’s unloading, the other reaches out to help set some of the burdens aside. It looks and feels tangibly practical, deeply mystical and all the spaces in between.

As my time in this community unfolds I have already had the deep honour to witness and participate in countless eternal moments of sharing life and shared living. I notice with amazement how this deceptively simple act of sharing impacts the energy, gait and faces of Dale folk. Looking lighter than they did when they came together, they travel on into their day, with a perceptible shift in their way of being. Perhaps it is because there is a knowing that soon enough will be another spirit-curated moment to stop, rest, and share. That might happen at any time during their day, but it will certainly happen at The Dale.

And isn’t this all so very much like the 3-in-1 Jesus, Divine Spirit, and God in whose image we are created? After all, the very breath that gives us life is a shared life with the Holy spirit, a life renewed in and through Jesus, who shares in our sufferings and joys, bringing us and all creation into shared relationship with the Creator God.

I am undone daily at The Dale and I am so much better for it. Here, I am learning all over again that it is core to who we are as image bearers, to be life-sharers too.

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What does it truly mean to do ministry like Jesus? I thought I knew the answer to that until I joined The Dale, where I have seen it with my own eyes. My name is Olivia, and I am interning at The Dale this summer. I have only been around for four weeks and have already felt very welcomed by the community.

The Dale is unique in so many ways. I have come to know this through experiences that continuously shape my idea of who The Dale is.

The Dale is: knowing by name each person sitting on a park bench or along street corners.

The Dale is: being friends with the gentleman at the traffic light asking for spare change.

The Dale is: visiting and feeding cats while their owner is in the hospital.

The Dale is: treating everyone with dignity and value.

The Dale is: two people trying to carry twelve bags of groceries to a friend’s apartment on the second floor.

The Dale is: cleaning a friend’s apartment while listening to “I’m Sexy and I Know it” on repeat.

The Dale is: passing a plate of food around the table to serve one another as a family does.

The Dale is: not just giving but mutually receiving from the community members.

The Dale is: hugging every individual in the church congregation during the greeting.

The Dale is: an unconditional love for anyone, from all walks of life.

During Jesus’ ministry, He spent time with the people who were marginalized in those days, such as the tax collectors and the sick. He told the people to “love your neighbour” (Mark 12:31) and models this throughout His ministry. Through working with The Dale, I am learning more about how this is applied today, that loving people can be accomplished by joining them in life’s mundane tasks. This community has shown me what fellowship looks like. From being with one another in the hard times to the simple moments of sitting in the park singing.

I am excited to continue to be involved in Parkdale and feel blessed to be a part of this family. Each day is unpredictable. I am never sure how plans will turn out, but by the end of the day it is cool to reflect on and see how God is directing things for His good.

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