Last Monday on my way to work, I got on the subway west bound to Parkdale. If you’ve taken the subway before you’ve probably experienced for yourself, the subway can be a mix of encounters. This time in particular, I sat next to a lady who was having a bad day. She was yelling really loudly, spitting angry words, and causing people to shift away in the train. I wanted to be able to help but there was a lot of unknown in what would happen if I approached her, if it would be a dangerous situation or not. At the next stop she got off the subway and I could tell everyone felt more relaxed again.
At The Dale we had our usual lunch planned, but this week we also had something else a little special- Flu shots! Plus the option to get a covid-19 vaccine if you didn’t already have yours (which majority of our folks do). Even after running two vaccine clinics in the summer and knowing the drill, we were still mindful to make sure things went smoothly.
As people came for lunch we notified people that there were flu shots available and then would walk anyone who wanted one inside. While trying to keep things in order, a guy standing outside the line started shouting/speaking very loudly. It started to cause a bit of a commotion, but before anything else could happen my co-worker Meagan went over to him. She kindly asked “Hey man can you keep it down?” Right away he said “ok, case closed”. It seemed he didn’t realize he was disturbing the people around him and quickly stopped yelling. It surprised me. Though I personally don’t know this man very well, he seemed to respect Meagan and The Dale, and without getting louder or fighting back he lowered his voice. It made me think about the lady in the morning who was alone and going through something that no one around understood. Though this man at The Dale might not have been as angry, it was remarkable to me the difference in conversation when there is mutual respect and it’s with someone you know (or are familiar with). Now I’m not saying this happens every time at The Dale, we have definitely encountered situations that have escalated when addressed. But, in that moment I witnessed the strength there is in respect and relationship.
When I started at The Dale, I was intimidated by some of the folks who spoke loudly or would sometimes yell. It wasn’t long until I got to know some of our core group when things really shifted and I was able to address people by name and feel comfortable checking in. A lot of what I’ve been learning and what I write about in these blogs always seems to come down to the power and importance of community. It makes me think of the body of Christ and the role of the church to be intentional in community with their neighbours.
It challenges me to continue to meet new people in the Parkdale community and seek out meaningful conversations in our lunch line of people that can often move along so quickly. I’m thankful that a spirit of mutual respect has been cultivated at The Dale, that not only I check in with others, but others also check in on me. That’s the beauty of community.
My job with The Dale requires that I fundraise my entire salary! If you would like to support me in my work go to thedale.org/donate or reach out to me at email@example.com. Please prayerfully consider joining my team whether that be through support financially or through prayer! Thank you!