The 12 Days of Christmas at the DI
On the 12th Day of christmas my true love gave to me....
There are some who suggest that this song is a code. Believed to have been written in the 16th Century, at a time when the religious wars in Britian made it perilous for a Christian to practise their faith. The 'gifts' are said to be code for the most important and relevant teachings of the faith. 'A partridge in a pear tree' represents Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 'Two turtle doves', the old and new testaments. 'Three french hens', Faith. Hope. Love, the three Theological Virtues of Christianity. (Go here to read all their meanings.)
Whether their meaning is fact or fiction, no matter where you are, hum a few bars and someone will chime in and bestow one of the gifts upon you.
At the DI, Christmas blessings continue to arrive every day. From socks and hats and mitts and jackets, Calgarians are turning up in record number to bestow upon us the things that will make a difference in someone's life at the shelter.
Last week, I went to an elementary school (The photos are placemats they created for clients to use on Christmas Day -- Thank you Battalion Park School!) to give a presentation to students from K-6. At the beginning of my presentation, I always ask, "Do you have a dream about what you want to do when you grow up?" And the students always throw up their arms, wave their hands and call out, "I do." "I do." Doctor. Lawyer. Fireman. Hockey Player. Nurse. Astronaut.
No one ever tells me their dream is to become homeless. Or to become mired in an addiction that will steal everything you hold dear and leave you wasting on the streets. No one ever tells me that their dream is to one day walk into a homeless shelter looking for the EXIT sign to the other side of the street only to become lost in depression and despair.
Homelessness isn't a dream come true. It is mostly a nightmare.
This Christmas, as in year's past, the darkness of homelessness has been lifted by the generosity of those who work at the frontlines holding out hope for everyone who comes through our doors and those who stand behind them, supporting them, lifting them up and ensuring they have what is needed to care for the people we serve.
For our clients, that hope begins with accepting them where they're at and treating them with dignity and respect, no matter where that place may be. For our volunteers, hope is founded on the value our shelter adds to our community -- we create a safe place for those who have nowhere to go except the streets. We take care of those who have lost their place in their family circles. We take care of those others can't or won't care for. And, for our communities, our city, our world, hope translates into a kinder, more caring society. A place where no matter your economic, spiritual, physical or mental state of being, everyone finds a place to belong.
It is the 12th Day of Christmas. In liturgical practise, the gifts of the 12 days begin with Christmas and continue for twelve days to the Epiphany.
We've jumped the Magi and moved the gifts to flow into the Christmas spirit. It isn't about when the gifts appear, it is that they appear and cast light upon our journey.
Today, I share a gift from a beautiful woman who wrote a poem for those who walk the streets and those who take care of where they're walking. I've never met Maureen Doallas in person, but after reading these 12 Days of Christmas, she felt compelled to share a poem she worte for everyone here at the DI.
Homage to DI
Poem written by:
not the kind
yet we know
Give us shelter.
And shelter we receive.
And so they provide.
And they say,
We give what we can
as we can
we still follow
of circles we've
still to trace
where they begin
A hand open
A hand given
Copyright Maureen Doallas
In the words of season's past, "Merry Christmas everyone. And to all A Good Night!"
Thank you for all your support. For your contributions that make the work we do possible.