I am blanketed in love. Wrapped up in friendship, companionship and care.
Last night, at the AlphaHouse Society AGM, I received a recognition gift for the support I’ve given them over the last year. It was a beautiful and thoughtful gesture, a caring and warm welcome into the friendship of the Society that supports individuals impacted by addictions and homelessness. 90% of AlphaHouse’s clients are first nations. 100% have addictions. And, as Joshua, a staff member who spoke at the beginning of the evening said, ‘every one of them is our teacher.’ And in that teaching, they see their clients as leaders. They lead their own journey, they shine a light on their own path and teach the staff and volunteers at Alpha House how to help, support, care and add their light so they can see their way better.
It is what I find so incredibly inspiring about Kathy Christiansen and her team at AlphaHouse. They do not enter into a relationship with one of their clients believing they know what the individual needs or what has to happen for that person to ‘get their act together’. They step into every relationship looking for opportunities for the other person to guide them. They manifest the 3 qualities of true leadership — courage, curiosity and humility — and meet as human beings on the common ground of compassion, love and hope. Their belief is that in normalizing addictions and street life, they awaken hearts to the possibility of what is beyond the narrow confines of addiction and street life. And in that possibility, lives change. Lives are saved.
The work AlphaHouse does is not easy. In fact, it’s very hard. To stand beside someone and walk with them compassionately and lovingly, removing obstacles as they arise, taking away roadblocks as they appear so that the individual can see for themselves through the brokenness of where they’re at takes patience, compassion and Love. It takes a commitment to being present without judgement. It takes a belief in the magnificence of the human spirit that does not waver in the darkness of someone’s addiction acting out and it takes patience.
Last night I received a beautiful limited edition Pendelton blanket designed by a member of the Tsuu T’ina nation. It was a thoughtful and fitting gift. It reflects the care and love Kathy and her team put into everything they do.
I am grateful. I am blessed.
After the AGM, when I went to meet my daughter for dinner, I couldn’t leave the blanket in my car. I was afraid someone would see it and break in and take it. I don’t recall a time I have ever felt that paranoid about having my car broken into. I did not want to lose this gift.
When I came home, I laid it out on my bed and when I crawled under the covers I felt myself wrapped in not only its loving embrace, but also the significance of what it represents.
As a Canadian, I am not proud of what we did in the past to First Nations peoples. I’m not proud of what we do today in many instances either. We continue to criticize, condemn and complain. We continue to discriminate. We continue to see through eyes that connect to the pain of the past and do not see the promise of what can be when we walk, side by side. When we see eachother as equals, allowing one another to lead, allowing one another to be each other’s teacher.
This beautiful blanket represents all of that for me and more. In its sacred design, in its rich and vibrant colours, in the story it tells of how Chief Bullhead sent out scouts to mark the Treaty 7 lands for the nation, I breathe into not only the deep traditions of the Tsuu T’ina, I breathe into the hope and love of what is possible when we let go of pain and breathe into promise.
I slept under the warmth of a blanket last night. I awaken.
I am grateful. I am blessed.