Anchored in Him...
“And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself.” Hebrews 6:18-19
Considering Lake Ontario looks like an ocean, it seemed totally fitting to be looking out at the windy waves and yachts on the water, while listening to my playlist titled “sea”. Since arriving in Canada, I had been trying to discern the Lord's will concerning my future. I had been blessed with the hospitality of the Zimbabwean pastors of a new Toronto church plant, Newlife. They had been invaluable to me, during my Canadian introduction, as I navigated being back in the first world. Understanding both of my worlds, it was such a gift to have a "Canadian Zimbabwean home away from home". Basics first - I was able to set up a bank account, organize a pay as you go phone and register at service Canada for my SIN card (what a name!) which made me eligible for employment. Welcomed to Canada by a Sikh, I just didn't have the answer to his dilemma - should he go to a Toronto Maples game that night?
On this journey back to my roots, I really hadn't had any roots. I had stayed with four multi-cultural families: a multi-racial Zimbabwean couple, an English-Indian couple, a Canadian-Zimbabwean couple, and presently a Caribbean-Canadian couple. All were symbolic of what I believe this city represents - a population where over 50% are not born in Canada. The demographic appears to be Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern (at least on the public transport) with a minority of Caucasians dappled in between. This is indeed the New York of Canada, but cleaner and friendlier. A city full of different languages and accents, Toronto is probably the most multi-cultural city in Canada? An immigrant city, and so much so that when I asked people for directions, some had no idea how to help me, because they'd only been in Canada for 6 months.
If a bus is just a "limo full of friends you haven’t met yet", I'd started up conversations with a diversity of Canadians, both local and newly immigrated, on the TTC bus and subway service. The friendliest person I met on the bus was actually an American, who had met her boyfriend on an online dating site. She misunderstood .ca for the California postal code (CA). Oopss!
I sat at the harbor, enjoyed the sporadic sunshine of spring; photographed the flowering Cherry blossoms in High Park; visited a few art exhibits around the city and touched base with a printmaking studio downtown. I found a lovely messianic congregation in York, with African Jews in attendance; joined in on a Father Heart seminar at Catch The Fire (CTF); found a Canada 150 flag in Chinatown and went out for tea with my aunt, who I hadn't see in over a decade. I ate Thai food with a Caribbean-Canadian, who had befriended me during my transitional anxiety at a CTF evening service. A Michelle Obama look alike, she was a safe place to process Toronto, the unknowns of the future and the possibility of meeting my dad.
I got a taste of a Christian original, Burger's Priest, with a friend I had met in Zim. He was part of a Bethel outreach team that came to serve in my city. It had been so encouraging to meet him and find out a little more about Toronto before I made the leap to relocate. His advice proved helpful in a transitional city where you really had to be intentional to find community.
I'm so thankful for the community I did experience here, from a warm and welcoming home base on Lakeshore, to a cosy creative space closer to downtown; to a spacious room and introduction to suburban life in Etobicoke. From there I headed to Oakville to stay with friends I had met while attending the Light the Fire Again conference. I was especially thankful for a ride back and forth from the conference, considering we had to wait outside in winter coats, during the Spring. And you just never know who you are going to meet in a conference line.
I met Christine in line at the conference on the first night. We only talked for ten minutes, but she offered me a place to stay and I took her at her word. Her home in Brampton was a place of peace, prayer and worship and a taste of “little India.” I was processing so much.
I really needed to be around people in this time, but I also needed my own space. What kind of work could I do? Was I supposed to go to Israel over sukkot? If so, I needed temporary work, but what? Did I work at Starbucks, Tim Hortons, an art shop, a summer shift restaurant, a vineyard? So many questions, and so few answers, but His word was a consistent light to my feet. It had been such a rollercoaster. I didn’t cry for almost two weeks, unusual in a season where I affiliated with the psalmist in Psalm 31, God was using the people in my path to cheer me on, and His word to guide me forward.
"I’m exhausted! My life is spent with sorrow,
my years with sighing and sadness.
Because of all these troubles, I have no more strength.
My inner being is so weak and frail" v10
"So cheer up! Take courage all you who love him.
Wait for him to break through for you, all who trust in him!" v24
Watching The Crown seemed a fitting Netflix binge, before watching the royal wedding, which I had the opportunity to see from a homely couch, after a delicious Canadian breakfast of wholemeal pancakes with fruit, tea and maple syrup! Canadians have a deep rooted affiliation with Britain, and I still remember the "rebel within" protesting against the thought of having to pledge allegiance to the Queen. How do people still do this?
Had "we" not thrown the tea into the sea along time ago? I had spent too much time in America? Yet, at the same time, I did love to keep up with the royals from time to time. It must be my British African roots?
The royal wedding was intriguing. It was such an amazing mix of the old and new, from the ancient hymns in an old cathedral, to the gospel choir and riveting speech of Reverend Curry. The English conservatism and American liberalism, in the context of a Christian service, was delightful, not to mention the text from Song of Songs 2. Considering Meghan Markle spent much of her time in Toronto, during the filming of Suits, I added this experience to my list of Canadian cultural experiences.