Knox United Church has played a pivotal role in creating a caring and inclusive community in downtown Calgary since it first opened its doors over 130 years ago. One of four founding churches to establish the network of faith community memebers that began Inn from the Cold 20 years ago, Knox continues to play a pivotal role in helping the Inn fulfill on its vision to build a community where no child or family is homeless.
Last night, Knox extended its warm hospitality to the children and families staying at the Inn’s emergency shelter. Over 20 volunteers gathered to create a place where gratitude, friendship, joy and gratitude shone in the faces and hearts of everyone gathered together share a meal, give thanks and build community. It rang out in the laughter, the conversation, the clink of cutlery on pretty china plates and wafted through the air filled with the delicious aroma of turkey and roasted vegetables and of course, pumpkin pie.
There was not a belly that felt empty, nor a heart that wasn’t full of gratitude by the end of the evening. Children darted in and around the tables set with pretty white china as parents and neighbours who’d come in to volunteer chatted and laughed together.
There was no, this is my space, you’re a visitor here. There was only the warm, loving welcome of the volunteers who gathered to prepare and serve the meal and put on all the activities to engage adults and children in a wonderful evening of fun and laughter. And, throughout the evening, gratitude and joy and a sense of belonging and community embraced the children and families, helping to lift the heaviness of homelessness to replace it with hope, possibility, Love.
In the end, there was one people, one humanity, one human condition gathered together to share a meal.
I spent the evening last night enveloped in the warm and welcoming embrace of friendship, welcoming hearts and caring hands. I spent the evening in that place where everyone knew they were at home surrounded that the thing we all yearn for the most — loving kindness and belonging.
I am blessed. I am grateful. I am awed by the spirit and humanity of everyone who came out last night to create such a beautiful place for everyone to connect and feel welcome.