Went out this morning because the wind was blowing my recycle bin all over the place. Trash and bottles were everywhere and numerous neighbors were out trying to chase down their cans and trash. We all commented how bitterly cold it was and then rushed to gather our garbage and clambered to get back into our warm cars or houses.
Entering my house felt like a relief – so warm and cozy. My ears and fingers were so cold they hurt and I made a decision that unless absolutely necessary I was staying indoors today. It’s a warm fire, hot cocoa, and cozy sweats or jammies kind of day.
I spent the next hour or two looking out the window making sure my trashcan stayed put until the trashmen sanitation workers (politically correct terminology, I believe) came to empty it. I watched more neighbors brave the cold to collect their cans and pick up garbage. Everyone looked miserable and frigid.
Then a lump formed in my throat. For you see, I and my neighbors are lucky. We have the luxury of escaping this bitter weather. We snuggle into our warm houses and cover ourselves with blankets, turn up our heat, drink a hot beverage, and enjoy the leftover holiday trappings. But somewhere out there are people, families even, that have nowhere to go. The have no choice but to suffer the wrath of this brutally windy day. Thinking of those people made me remember to be thankful for the life I have. Too often I forget how lucky I am and I forget to be thankful. I get mired in negativity.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a mother with young children and no home to shelter them. Or a family with no working heater, just stove burners for warmth or if they are lucky an old kerosene heater. Better to be somewhat warm they are thinking then to worry about the danger of fire that lit stoves and kerosene heaters pose. Where does someone go in weather like this? Many shelters demand that families leave during the daytime hours. Do they find shelter in malls, bus terminals, where?
Right now my son is building tracks and tunnels for his many trains. He’s wearing warm, comfy pajamas (cuz it’s pajama day in our house today). The heat is turned up and he has no knowledge other than the sound of the wind against the house of how cold it is. I’m sipping hot cocoa as I type this. But what would I do if we were homeless on a day like today? How would I amuse a three year old for hours and still keep him safe and prevent him from freezing to death or blowing away?
If I were working at a shelter how would I turn families with young children out into this cold? If I were the manager or the owner of a store I couldn’t turn them away if they came in to seek shelter, could I? Would I care that paying customers might be disgusted by their bedraggled appearance or would I say today is not the day to care what others think but to do what I know is right in my heart, even if it means less money in the till at the end of the day?
If I were that mother with nowhere to go and a young child to protect what decisions would I have to make so we could survive? How would I explain to my child that we have no warm house to go to, no warm cocoa for him to drink, no warm place where he could just play with trains while the fierce winds blew outside?
So, as I sit and listen to the winds batter my house and watch my neighbors chase their trash all over the street, I thank God (or whatever you believe in) that I am not faced with the life that some mothers find themselves in now. I pray for them and I bow my head in awed wonder at the strength they must gather every day in order to keep their families together and alive. And I pray that somewhere they have found a warm shelter out of this wind.