Happy Snowmagedoan 2021. Which of course comes on top of Happy 11th (eleventieth?) month of COVID restrictions.
This is hard, for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you that living in this abnormal sort of world isn’t rightfully hard. It is. We are all under strain right now. The snow which, for almost all of us, has been a welcome novelty at the very least, is also a complication.
Today I am thinking about homelessness. I am thinking about what it is to be a person who is trying to survive when you don’t have reliable housing, or reliable income, or reliable meals.
Our community recently opened a Drop-in Center for folks during the day. (SPIN Cafe, does good work. Please support them!) It’s open Monday through Friday, and located in–but not run–our church during the daytime hours.
But, Today is Sunday. My husband and I went to shovel sidewalks at our church knowing that tomorrow people would need to get in for the Drop-In center.
There was a gentleman who came hoping that the Drop-in center was open. It wasn’t. He understood, but he had walked a long way. He made himself content on a bench outside the door. And it pretty well broke Andrew and I both.
So. It’s Sunday. It’s Snowmageddon. It’s a Pandemic. The library is closed due to the weather. Restaurants and Coffee-Shops don’t have indoor seating because of COVID. The Drop-In Center wasn’t open. The Haven (the floating emergency shelter on the island) doesn’t open until 6 p.m. tonight. There was nowhere for this gentleman to go.
There is a foot of snow on the ground and people in this town are cold… And there is nowhere to go.
When things are hard for me…. I am finding over and over again, that they are exponentially harder for those who are unhoused. The things that are a barrier and a frustration for me, become an even greater barrier for a person who has no home to operate out of.
No place to take a shower.
No place to wash their hands.
No place to wash clothes.
No place to snuggle under a blanket and take for granted there is enough money to pay the electricity bill from running the heater so much more during the day.
No place to stretch out their legs or to lay down.
No place to get a cup of coffee.
No place to sit for very long without worrying someone will complain that you are loitering or lingering.
No place to make soup to warm your belly at the end of the day.
There is no place to just be.
COVID restrictions have been hard. I miss eating in a restaurant or meeting a friend for coffee. I miss going shopping and not worrying about how many people are in a store. I feel disconnected from people and that gets lonely. Every. Single. Things seems to take an extra level of thinking and planning and that gets exhausting.
For people experiencing homelessness it has made just being, just living so much harder. There aren’t places to get warm. There aren’t places to just exist. There aren’t places to fill out job applications, or to look for resources. What is a frustration to me is a barrier to stability, or to warmth, or to a full belly, or to dignity for them.
I am grateful that our community is developing more places for people to just be. I am so grateful for SPIN cafe and the work they do and the dignity they bring. I am grateful they keep looking for ways to provide things like lunches, and showers, and a place to just BE during the week. I am grateful for the Haven providing places to sleep at night. I am grateful for Ryan’s House and their drop-in center for youth and young adults. We can never meet all the needs, but each Something that we do… Each Someplace that is made open…. Makes it that much easier.
I firmly believe that saves lives.
Still there will be Snowmageddon Sundays. There will be cold midnights. There will be circumstances which make the places doing a lot of good not the best fit for people.
I don’t have a pretty bow to wrap this up with. I am just seeing it, sitting with it, and inviting others to see and sit with it too.
A Snowmageddon Sunday in the middle of a Pandemic is many things to many people. For me, today, I guess it is a chance to reflect on how hard life continues to be, and how much work there is to be done to ease the burden for so many people in our communities.