H. Dale Lloyd: I am the tenth and final child born to a Mohawk mother and a United Empire Loyalist father, in the sleepy little town of Napanee, Ontario, Canada. The year was 1949. The house in which I was born was known in the community as “the shack”. A couple years later we moved into a stone shack (a chicken coop before my parents purchased it) between the tiny hamlets of Strathcona and Newburg.
There was nothing spectacular about my childhood—save perhaps the struggles associated with poverty. Even my birth was a battle. My twin sister was born first, and I twenty minutes later.
In 1949 I was known as a “blue baby” because I was born oxygen deprived and “refused” to breathe for a period that endangered my existence. Despite the lack of consciousness of that beginning, the psychological impact has followed me through life. It was as if the circumstances of my birth provided a prophetic sign of what my life would be: That I would always be last, always be a follower, and life would always be a battle. I would have to fight for every breath.
Shame was the dominate emotional staple of my childhood. That shame related to our economic status, but far more to the fact that my mother was an Indian. I seldom wore shoes or shirts during the months of summer, and that garnered the derisive designation: ‘the half naked Indian.’ To most of the community kids I was ‘Pow-Wow the Indian boy.’
My formal education began at seven years of age. At the time I had no name for it, but not being able to name it did not diminish its negative influences experientially. Discrimination and blatant favouritism based on economic status and family background guaranteed that education could never be a positive experience.
That there was no premium placed on education in my home, and that “educators” repeatedly called me stupid, made it a natural choice to drop out of school in grade ten when given the option by my mother. In retrospect—intended or not—it was shame-based education and all I learned was to despise it.
Whatever was imposed upon me during those critical formative years and whatever the lingering influences upon my psyche, there was a core reality of my personality that refused to die: IMMAGINATION—THE POWER OF DREAMING. In that deep, personal, and private world of the heart I was everything all the forces eternal to me told me I was not and never could be.
The focus of my inner world was the faith to which I had come and an almost obsessive fascination with words. My faith led me into the ministry of the church. My love of words resulted in endless writing and public speaking.
At thirty-eight years of age, I secured my High School Equivalency Diploma. I attended four evening study sessions and decided it was all happening too slowly. Friday (from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM) of the same week I wrote exams in six areas of study. I passed them all—solidly. Upon returning home, my first comment to my wife was: “I still do not have any significant measure of education, but the one thing I know is that they all had it wrong in my childhood – I AM NOT STUPID. Several years before this, I successfully completed the three-year study program of Apostolic Missionary Institute.
In 1972 I married the girl who had captured my heart, and forty-eight years later she still captures my heart. Wenda Mary Hart has been and continues to be the most important positive influence in my life. Not for a single moment have I had to wonder about her support.
The ministry has taken me to several countries, including Haiti. I mention Haiti because it was there I discovered the daughter we adopted. We could not have children. Darline was ten years old before we could get her to Canada. She is now thirty years old, has a first-class education (all I missed). She is absolutely amazing.
And so, after a long journey of endless miles, I have returned to where it all began. I am back in Napanee, Ontario. I am back in my home church. And though my intention was to retire from ministry—yes, you guessed it—I am pastoring the church of my childhood.
Of course, I am still indulging my passion for writing.