coming and going/homelessness

Posted: October 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

I always check the weather first thing on running mornings; it was 36 degrees out this morning at 4:45 when I checked.  I was thrilled – a day for running tights!  Those are the best running days of all.

I already had on my warmest wool socks (I LIVE in those things right now pretty much 24/7) – I pulled on those running tights (rated for subzero temps, so they overheat me almost immediately when I put them on) as well as my good long-sleeved underarmour shirt beneath a regular long-sleeved running shirt.  Found my favorite gloves for running – they have the special fingertips that let me wear them while using the iphone screen (just in case I might need to call 911, you understand).  Pulled on my nice Mizuno running shoes..the ones I bought in the store where they watch you run on a treadmill and then explain what kind of shoes you need to deal with your specific level of “pronation.’ 

Hustling out the front door of my building, there in the area between the inner “buzz-in” doors and the outside doors, were two people huddled on the steps.  Wearing winter coats but their whole body posture screamed that they had been out in the cold all night and just couldn’t get warmed.

I didn’t interrupt my run to help them.  Wished them “good morning” in a cheery voice and kept on moving.  I got stuff to do, you understand.

I thought of them and prayed for them as I ran.  I have worked in 2 shelters.  I know a bit about homelessness.  My heart was hurting.  When I got back, they were still sitting there, not looking a bit warmer.  I mumbled my hello and kept moving, thinking of the obscenity of the hundreds of dollars worth of gear on my body and the overpriced phone in my pocket – really an awful thing to think of while seeing how they shivered.

Back upstairs in my apartment, I hustled.  Found some random bits of food – there’s not much around here just now – as well as some plastic containers and plastic utensils.  On the counter were some bags of candy left over from my daughter’s shower – I grabbed them too as I ran for the door.

Back downstairs again…they were still sitting there.  I know the clock is running.  Soon enough someone “in charge” will notice them.  Can’t have those unsightly homeless folks scaring, upsetting, and offending the nice folks who already possess the great wealth of a door to lock behind them and a roof over their heads.  They’ll be run off very soon, no doubt.  I asked, “Are you hungry?” and the response broke my heart (and breaks it again, just writing those words.)  Handed them the food and wished them warmth.  They were effusive in their gratitude.  They wanted to know my name. My name?  Why does my name matter?  I am not the point of this story.  Still, I told them.  I noticed that the man seemed to be both elderly and blind. 

I am so offended at homelessness.  It is WRONG, and I don’t give a damn about WHY they are homeless.  I’ve worked with that population.  I GET that some are more victims and some are more “choosers” of the situation.  I don’t care.  All I know is God loved people so much He gave EVERYTHING for people – even people who choose badly every day of their lives. HOW is it okay that a single one of them sits shivering on the steps, excessively grateful for food, waiting for the awful moment when they’ll be told to move along?

It’s fall, and I love the cold, and I’ll smile again tomorrow if it’s a running tights morning.

But I won’t forget the ones who sit on the steps.


  1. you tell this story in the perfect way. I wasn’t for one moment feeling shamed or guilty. I was simply THERE, inside the moment, watching and feeling my heart lighten…

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