I've always believed society is defined by how we deal with our weakest links. The best of America is when we take care of the less fortunate. Peter SamuelsonWinter has blown in with a howl of frigid Arctic air swooping down from the north. Snow piles up along roadways. Traffic crawls, inch by inch. Crunching tires. Spinning wheels. Baby, it's cold outside.
Tucked inside my office, peering out at the snow-laden trees and covered sidewalks, I don't care what the weathers doing outside! I'm cosy in my office. If it weren't for the fact we're out of milk, I might not venture forth at all today!
I have the option to stay put, spend my day quietly reading, painting, doing whatever I want to pass the time of day.
At the shelter where I work, the option of what to do is not filled with appealing alternatives for the 1200+ people who crowd into the building, seeking respite from the biting winds of a prairie winter. Their options are limited. They can wander the streets to get a break from the crowds huddled into the shelter and risk freezing a finger, a toe, their nose or ears, or they can sit amidst the sea of humanity trying to ignore the constant ebb and flow of conversation, the noise and hum of over a thousand people trying to get by in the depths of winter.
Last night we had our annual Christmas staff party. Lots of people didn't make it. The weather blew in and blew out any hope of some people finding their way through the blowing snow to the hall where the party was held. For those who did, the festivities were a warm tribute welcoming the end of an arduous year of ending homelessness, one person at a time. At one point, the President of our Board of Directors got up to give a speech. "Until I got the stats this week, I didn't realize we were in line with McDonald's," he said. "We served over one million meals this year."
That's a lot of meals. A lot of people looking for a link back to the homes they lost. A lot of bellies to fill with hope of getting a next meal and a next.
See, that's the thing about homelessness. We must care for 'our weakest links' if we are to keep hope alive in a land of plenty for those who have lost everything, including hope. We must hold out hope to those who have lost their way so that they can find their way back to where they belong.
It's cold outside. Inside, I am warm. And I am filled with hope. Winter's chill will ease away into warmer climes. Spring blossoms will appear sometime in the future. In the meantime, Christmas promises to be white. A welcome respite from the normal brown and grey tones of the past few years.
And hope lives on. It lives in the minds and hearts of all who care for the weakest links in their families. Who shore up the crumbling walls of someone they love. Who deliver a steaming bowl of soup to someone who has nothing but the clothes on their back and a dream of someday finding their way back home.
Hope lives on as long as we care enough to reach out for those who have reached the end of the road and don't know where to turn to next.
No questions today, just a wish that all of you find the courage and the strength to reach out, with open arms, outstretched hands, to give and to receive -- in hope, anticipation, and above all else, love.