The 12 Days of Christmas at the DI
This is a busy time of year at the shelter, or, as one staff called it, 'tis the crazy season.
The season when those who call the shelter home feel, deep down on a soulful level, who is missing, what is lacking, who is gone, who is not there, where we are not, the tables and families and friends with whom we were once connected.
For some, it will be their first Christmas carrying the label, "Homeless". For others it is a well-worn reality they cannot shake. Like a bad cold it lingers and lingers, draining them of the hope of ever finding the strength to leave it behind. No matter how long they've been homeless, however, each year brings different challenges, different experiences. Poverty. Lack. Scarcity. Moments of joy. Of hope. Of expectations rising. Of love and feelings of being connected to a community here at the DI.
So this is Christmas.
Here at the DI Christmas is visible on all the floors. Lights twinkle. Trees stand sentry in the corners, their lights tiny beacons in the early morn. Parcels and packages are arriving. Some have names on them as they've come through the Christmas WishList just for John C. or Linda W. or Jordan F. Within each parcel is the thing they asked for, their "All I want for Christmas" wish.
It is all they can ask for. For many, most probably, the thing they long for most is what they cannot find, cannot have, cannot ask someone else to give them. A way back home.
For many, that road is blocked by addictions, family violence, divorce, death, mental health issues, lack of job, lack of education, lack of direction, of hope, of possibility.
For many, the road home is a long journey that begins each morning when they awaken and face another day in this place called homelessness.
For many, the road home will begin when they open their gift Christmas morning and discover the thing they wished for is really there. That thing they asked for, the warm winter gloves, the new sweater, the book, the bathrobe, really has been given. And in that moment of finding their wish fulfilled, trust awakens. Hope arises. Possibility opens up.
We never know what possibility one gift can bring. We never know how deeply someone will be touched, what can happen when a stranger cares enough to give the thing you've asked for.
What I do know is, this Christmas, no matter how crazy, no matter how far from home, the road back will begin with awakening on Christmas morning to find, someone cared enough to make a difference in their life.
So, This is Christmas.
For the next twelve days we will celebrate the people who make the season so bright here at the DI. Whether it is Christmas, or Hanukkah, Ramadam, or simply, The Season, whereever you are this year, look around you, reach out, find a place, a way, a someone, a stranger, a friend who needs something you can give.
Find someone to share your love and joy so that we create a circle of caring hearts opening up to the wonder of being alive on that special morning to receive the greatest gift of all. Love.
And on your Christmas morning, I hope, like me, you open someone's door and discover the greatest gift you have ever received -- those you love all around you.