A Place of Belonging

 

To be included you just need to be present. To belong you need to be missed.”~John Swinton

 

Many people recognize the face of Alfred, a long-time member of the HCM family who passed away this last May.

Alfred was someone I could trust to guide me.  He helped me navigate throughout Winnipeg.  If I was driving a group, I would pick up Alfred first and he would help me find everyone we needed to pick up.  He set me on the correct path and showed me the way (many times).  He was always confident and matter of fact.

He cared deeply about people and had an amazing memory for the details of their lives.  During his lengthy hospital stay, hearing about people was very important to him.  He missed being in community.  He missed his friends from day program, his Hope Centre family, and the familiar surroundings of home.

The relationships that he had with people were his greatest treasure.  Relationships brought security and a deep sense of belonging.

Alfred knew many Bible stories, but we talked often about the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.  He loved this story and the song, The Horse and Rider, that is based on that story.  As his health deteriorated, be had moments that filled him with uncertainty.  Seeing him unsure of his path reminded me again of this story.  He had come to a water’s edge.  He had discovered things about his health and felt fear.  He was overwhelmed and had moments where he was distraught.   He needed this song to remind him that “God would fight for him”… that God HAD fought for him.   The Bible verse that came to mind was from Isaiah 43, where God said:  “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name…. Alfred you are mine.  When you walk through the waters…. I will be there.  And through the flame.  You won’t be drowned.  You won’t be burned.  Do not be afraid.  I love you—you are honored and precious.” Alfred needed words of strength and hope.  He needed assurance of God’s presence…. He needed a clear path.  God provided that for him through community.   The relationships that he loved so much are what brought him peace during this time.

Alfred was not alone.  He had a community that rallied around him . Through visits, cards, Tim Horton’s coffees, TV rentals,  checkers, puzzles, crafts, hair cuts, and walks– God communicated his presence.  As people gave their time to simply be with him, so that he would not be alone, God was there with Alfred.  At the water’s edge, it was community that provided a path of dry ground.

Hope Centre Ministries is a place where Alfred knew with certainty, that he belonged.  He felt loved and secure.  Missing him is a reminder of belonging as his death leaves a space in many of our lives.  As we move into a new year, I pray that we may continue to treasure the relationships and community that is nurtured through Hope Centre Ministries.

 

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