I recently got to the work of sorting and organizing the room which has become a catch-all during the house renovation. As I went through the boxes of things I have carefully stored out of harm’s way, I was greeted by a variety of gifts from my friends at The Dale.

Will gave me a belt buckle with an eagle on it.

Mike wrote, “the light will always overcome the darkness” on a scrap piece of cardboard for me.

John gave me a glass bottle shaped like a boot, containing raspberry cordial. However seemingly random, I know to him it was the most special thing he could offer.

James painted a portrait of me and Joanna.

Marlene, a lover of jewellery, found me a glass bead bracelet- blue, because it’s “your favourite colour”.

Though I don’t smoke, Steve gave me a cigarette. He explained that in his culture, tobacco is considered sacred. Given that, and the fact it was his only one, I felt moved by his generosity.

Rita made both me and Cate amazing arrangements of artificial flowers.

Doug has made me countless recordings of jam sessions, church services and Open Stages at The Dale.

Peter fashioned a lion and a lamb out of clay that sits on my bookshelf.

Knowing how I love birds, Shannon found me a little porcelain one.

The list goes on and on. These gifts are one very tangible example of how I get to receive from this community.

It is good to both give and receive. We talk about this a lot at The Dale. Of course, a gift doesn’t have to look like any of the items I’ve just described: it could be a hug, an offer to listen, a kind word, a cup of coffee, or some other act of service, and that’s just the beginning.

There is something important about honouring the offering of another. I love that in the context of relationship we can begin to articulate what we might need (or not). AND, I think there is a time to humbly receive something that took sacrifice to give. With that in mind, I hope that I can be as gracious a receiver as my friends are givers.