I can hardly believe that the Super Bowl was over a month and a half ago now. I was at a friends house for the festivities that included good friends, good food, games, and of course, the BIG game. We were convened together, about 20-30 people in the basement of my friends house, dipping our collective hands into the bowl of chocolate covered raisins and shooting the breeze from close range. During a commercial break, I engaged in conversation about a recent new virus that had just popped up on our radar – a virus that, at the time, seemed distant in a far away land.
Fast forward 44 days, and COVID-19 has become a worldwide pandemic. It has forced us out of our rhythms and customs, assumed preferences and brought the best laid plans to a screeching halt. It’s effected every part of our lives; our work, our play, and our worship. At The Dale Ministries, we’ve kept an open conversation going as to how we can and should respond to every government update and instruction concerning COVID-19. Some among our community are those who are at a higher risk if they were to contract the “Coronavirus”, and many don’t have the means to drive to the nearest Costco and fill their cart with toiletries, and now are wondering where to get toiletries for next week. With the closure of public spaces, many more among us no longer have a place to go, whether it’s to the library to read, or the coffee shop for a warm drink. As I write, there’s still no plan to protect those struggling with homelessness. How do you practice social spacing at a shelter?
At The Dale, perhaps the most stressful and difficult shift is the one away from the tight bonds of community. Much of our weekly time together is spent over a shared meal, or at least a shared table, and we’ve since had to deviate from this blessed arrangement. But there are pockets of awesomeness even in the throes of this dangerous new virus. Although we were unable to meet inside our usual spot for worship on Sunday, we showed up and stood outside the church building together, praying and singing songs. It was different to our usual custom, but at the same time it was nothing new. Since we don’t have a building of our own, we’re used to being out on the streets of Parkdale, and it seemed like everyone took it in stride. Yesterday, rather than our usual shared meal in a crowded room, we took out the BBQ and prepared hot dogs outside. It was great! It was also messy, but once again, nothing out of the ordinary. We are finding ways to stay “in touch” even if it’s with an air-hug.
Our prayers are for those impacted not only by the virus itself, but for those impacted by the “domino-effect” of the virus. I long for the day when this pandemic is the stuff of history books, but in the mean time we’re praying for wisdom, and trying to love the best way we can.