This afternoon we set a forest of Christmas trees into Dundarave Beach as a witness to hope, with each tree providing a powerful answer to the loneliness and desperation of a life without a home. The trees allow us to take sides. Great Canadian Landscaping prepped the beach for us this week, lovingly as only master gardeners can. Mario Russell lead two trailer loads of trees from his Valley View Farm that were even more magnificent than the forest he produced for us last Christmas. And a legion of friends, old and new, including students from Sentinel and St. Thomas Aquinas, homemakers, graphic artists, kids, lawyers, firefighters and the ever-reliable Knights of Columbus, set the trees in their rightful places on this spectacular beach. Without decoration, standing dark and verdant, they are a witness to the best hope we can have for our community -- especially the people in our community without secure homes of their own. The trees make a statement of solidarity, they affirm the beauty of the bonds that hold us together in our common humanity. And when they are decorated, hung with strands of LED lights, they shine with the fierce spirit of our community -- a love for this place, a love for each other that the bitter cold and darkness cannot overcome.
So a word of welcome to everyone who walks through the forest of Christmas trees as it stands now, row upon row of trees standing in expectation of the bright day of love and friendship that's coming to all of us and especially, because this is Christmas, to the people who most need to see the arrival of that bright day.