Opening to Grace: Friendliness and hospitality part of life in Creston Valley

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Rev. Shelley Stickel-Miles is an ordained minister who works alongside all the delightful ministers at Trinity United Church in Creston.

Thank you, Creston, for the friendliness and hospitality. I have enjoyed this community very much. One of the things I have benefitted from here is taking breaks to have lunch with the folks from the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS) on Wednesdays at Trinity United Church. I experience quite sensitive people who greet one another with great joy or real anger depending on their experience of the morning.

I had a friend who lived in a L’Arche community for a number of years and she experienced great healing there because L’Arche is about people of many different abilities and levels of functioning living together to support one another. It’s as if the reason for our differences might be that we can fulfill different parts of a communities needs.

In my simple process of a day, I can overanalyze what is going on between people and it is refreshing to come in for Wednesday lunch and have Robert yell hello across the hall. It breaks all the social tension of needing to text, then reply and do several back and forth missives in order to plan a meeting. A simple, direct good to see you AND a smile.

I’m excited about the plans for Spectrum Farms. It is an incredibly beautiful property with a vision for community development and support for all sorts of people and food sustainability projects. I wish we could have moved our church there and been subsumed as part of that large mission. It was a bit of a dream.

Another dream has been brewing about green alleyways, which might dovetail with the community trail project in some way. Google “green alleyways Montreal”, then also Chicago. There are great ideas to change our city environments for the better by making our alleyways greener places to walk, play, share space together and allow the earth to soak up rain rather than repel it. This idea needs a leader and legs!

Many people have learned the lesson that communal projects create safety, more energy, health and recreation. Montreal citizens got together in neighbourhoods to talk about what changes they could help with, what they needed city support for and then got at it. Many alleys had pavement removed, with grass, pavers and sometimes gardens put in. Lots of Montrealers have enjoyed quieter walks and bike rides, as well as seen the backs of their properties be more attractive and cooler places to be in the summer.

Creston has a high level of volunteerism, which may demonstrate the belief that we are truly are each other’s keeper, or at least that we depend on one another to some degree. Many I see at our church offer their time because they care for each other and have also realized how good it feels to be useful. Communal projects create more safety because people know each other; they have more energy because people experience full days of relationship building and better health because they’ve been active.

Thank you to Robert who yells hello across the hall to me when I come in for Wednesday lunch with the TAPS folks. That instantly breaks all the tiredness I might feel and opens me to grace.

My thanks to the Wednesday lunch workers who come from various churches: Linda, Alice, Tammy, Dodie and Helen. They love to offer kindness and care. The food is just your bait; I know your blessed tricks.

Rev. Shelley Stickel-Miles is an ordained minister working alongside all the delightful ministers at Trinity United Church in Creston.

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