Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry Christmas and I Hope You Don't Freeze to Death Tonight

The shelters in town turn out the homeless very early in the morning and don't allow them back in til evening.  One, I'm told, does not allow them back in until 9 p.m.  Our church provides a hot breakfast for the homeless early each Sunday morning. Last Sunday, we didn't have a shuttle van and had informed everyone that they would  have to walk.  A 30 minute walk in the cold for a healthy person.  My wife and I were the first to arrive; it was still dark.  In the darkness I noticed a figure huddling in the cold. A homeless man was already there, waiting.  I thought it was strange anyone should show up an hour early, particularly due to the walk.  Puzzled, I asked him what he was doing here so early.  He had on a  light denim jacket.  I don't recall any gloves.  Shivering, he told me he had slept outside all night in an open parking deck.  He told me he was "cold to my core."

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God, it's cold out there.  The Christmas season has become primarily an opportunity for further consuming, rather than caring.  I know what's on MY list and am hoping to get--and it's not a place to sleep.  This is supposed to be a season of giving, not getting.  Isn't our entire life, if properly ordered, to reflect our compassion, not our acquisitions?  Our culture is all about accumulation; on the other hand, Christmas--"Christ's Mass"-is all about giving, not getting.

So, let's enjoy our friends and families.  Enjoy what you get from those whom love you.  Give to those you love and with whom you share life.

But, please don't forget--it's cold out there.


David Dyben said...

My younger brother Scott is the Kitchen manager at the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. Served over 3142 T-Day meals and their homeless shelters our filled to capacity.40% increase in demand over last year. What have we done to ourselves as a nation.


Steve said...

Let's blame it on whoever is in office.
I am one, too, who laments "what we have done," and have often been stuck there. These days--and it is requiring a huge effort-- I'm trying to focus more on "what we can do."
I appreciate your sensitivity toward the the marginalized.

Peyton Farquhar said...

Let's place blame where it firmly belongs beginning with Ronnie Raygun and continued since then including by oBOMBa. The do-nothing, aristocratic Congre$$ who represent billionaires and wall street bankers are the ones that neutered all post Depression regulations so that their billionaire buddies could profit. The **real** unemployment stats are far worse than 1930. All you have to do is look at the explosion of ppl on food stamps it is at an all time high. Ppl have lost their previous middle class incomes through no fault of their own and the politicians fiddle while Rome burns. They don't give a shit b/c they don't have to. They got their millions and their buddies have theirs. We need a revolt in this country to toss out the Congre$$ional douchebags permanently.

Steve said...

I understand there are structural issues; there are deep systemic problems. I hear your frustration! And I'm offended by the arrogance of those in power. But on an individual level, I have to ask myself, "What am I doing to assist those within my own sphere of influence who need help?" Maybe a gentle revolution starts with you and me showing compassion, even though in my anger I'd rather revolt and stick it to them, i.e. the system. Thanks for the feedback.

David Dyben said...

If I could summarize what you said it would be basically like Michael Jacksons famous song " Man in the Mirror". My Fatehr used to say people that b*tch and then do nothing are a dime a dozen.To your point.The gentleman up above wrote what is probably a fairly majority opinion in the US right now.But violence will not solve it.I may not be able to change the culture of Washington DC, but I can change me.I will help someone tomorrow, and then next, and yes I will feel good, and deep down inside I will still be thinking "In spite of my rage I am still just a rat in a cage" source Smashing Pumpkins.

Zach said...

Wow. Was it one of the guys who comes to church regularly? It’s hard to imagine spending the night outside Saturday night. I’ve never been cold to my core like this man must have been. I appreciate your choice of perspective, focusing on “what can be done” rather than “who is to blame.” I think there is value in working to change the systemic causes of homelessness that can be changed, but that is no simple or easy thing, and in the meantime people are still cold at night and hungry in the morning.

On a related note, how did the Christmas banquet go last night?

Steve said...

fantastic, though a lower turn-out than we anticipated. The diminished turn-out was due to a shelter's legalism. The banquet was at 5 p.m. and the shelter's curfew is 5:30. I asked for an exception so the men could attend and the shelter rep told me no. I asked to speak to his superior and got the same line--"sorry it's our policy that if they show up at the shelter after 5:30 we don't let them in. It's policy." (I may blog about this; it really burns me.)