She refers to me as mom though she’s my senior by over a decade. My “daughter” has endured much in her life: she has slept under a bridge, sold her body for sex, struggled with addiction and most recently, stumbled under the weight of cancer. I first met ‘Jane’ about six years ago at The Dale Ministries, the church and community organization that I pastor.
Life with Jane is challenging and good. She knows how to both make me laugh and drive me crazy. It is not uncommon for Jane to follow me around a room leaving very little personal space or call my name repeatedly when I’m in conversation with someone else. She’ll tell you that I get too busy and look like a chicken with my head cut off, to which I would say, “she’s right”. We like to celebrate our complexity, knowing that we both have weaknesses and strengths.
One day Jane walked up to me asking for things I didn’t have to give and I fell apart, due to circumstances that had nothing to do with her. She grabbed my arm, took me into another room and repeatedly said, “let it out, put it all on me, let it out”. In that moment, I felt I met Jesus in Jane, a woman tattered and torn by life with a large capacity to love. Similarly, when my mother died in May of this year, Jane sent me a package that included a note and a shawl I’m certain she found discarded, something she hoped I would wrap myself in as though it was a hug from her.
Jane teaches me about sharing life in a transparent and vulnerable way: she tells me about what is going on in her heart and consistently invites me to do the same. We seek to care for one another in the best and worst times and delight in calling one another family. “The message we have heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another.” (1 John 3:11)
Erinn Oxford joined the The Dale team in 2007. In 2012 she was invited to become the full-time Executive Director and Pastor. Erinn is passionate about fostering a sense of community for all people, while placing at the core those who have known marginalization. She has a Bachelor of Religious Education from Tyndale and a Diploma in the Management of Volunteers from Humber College. Erinn has extensive experience working with people who are street involved, underhoused and trying to cope with substance addiction and mental health issues. Erinn is a Toronto native who loves her city. She is married to Dion and they have a daughter, Cate. Learn more by visiting Erinn’s Blog.