My oldest’s favorite song over the holidays was “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Yes, it’s a disconcerting song when you really listen to the words. But if you listen to the Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page version (my favorite) of it from 1949, you soon realize that the woman who voiced “Big Mama” from “The Fox and the Hound” is really the one in charge.
But I digress.
My point is, baby, it’s cold outside.
Or it will be. Lows in the teens Monday and Tuesday nights.
It’s going to be bad y’all. We are just not equipped to handle weather like this down here in Georgia. I haven’t gone to the grocery store, but I’m guessing the bread and milk is almost gone. That’s what our people do, stock up on bread and milk and other essentials when even the hint of bad weather comes along.
So many very caring people in social media have been posting pictures and warnings to remind people to bring the animals in from outside.
I know they are well-intentioned, but…..
For the love.
I have yet to see one asking us to take care of our brothers and sisters who are out in this horrible cold.
Why is that, do you think?
It breaks my heart.
Since hearing the weather alerts, I haven’t heard of any extra shelter being provided for my friends who have no home to stay safe from the elements in. I don’t know what most of them will do. With a low of 13 and windchill much below that, how will they manage to make it through the night? And what will it take for us to call on each other to help a person in need? To share a picture over and over on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, calling us not to forget the two-legged creatures, the human beings, out in the weather?
I don’t have the answers. I know people in need, and I know some of the resources. Shoot, I have a warm house myself. But I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do in the midst of this. But I do know that I used to love a few days of really cold weather each winter, and now it turns my stomach, just the thought of it. And right now, doing nothing is not an option for me. I just can’t let this go.
How many fellow human beings will we have to lose, how many have to die, literally freezing to death, before we start working a little harder to make an effort to change things?
Tonight I looked on the local news website–the one where they are making children happy (or not) by listing the school closings. I looked to see if there was any news about churches opening their fellowship halls or allowing folks to sleep in their pews the next couple of nights. I found nothing about emergency shelter of any sort. So the few shelters in the areas that are already filled to capacity are all that there are, I guess. I am frustrated, and I am mad. Why aren’t the churches turning up the heat and opening their doors? Wasn’t the one whom many claim to follow also without “a place to lay his head?” (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58, the Good Book) In my opinion, if they can’t open their doors to those in need Monday through Saturday, then why bother on Sunday? In extreme cases like this–with emergency shelter needed so badly–how can they make any other choice? And why wasn’t a game plan discussed and made last summer, before it was needed? Why aren’t we being more proactive for people in need?
Y’all, the message of “If you are cold, they are cold” applies to human beings too.
Tonight at Evening Prayer we talked about our concerns and what is and is not available for our friends and those we don’t know who are without shelter. As we talked about the posts in favor of folks bringing their pets in, we wondered if there was one recognizing the inhumanity of people sleeping out in the elements. Thanks to my friend who designed this and sent it this evening. It cuts to the heart of the matter.
The thing is each one of these people once belonged to someone, maybe still do. They have names and stories, feelings and dreams, and they matter. Each and every one. No matter the choices that may or may not have led to them living as they do, they deserve another chance just as much as you or I. And each one deserves to be in out of the horrible cold we are facing. In a safe, warm place.
That song–Aub’s favorite? The reason that this version is my favorite is because Hot Lips Page sounds an awful lot like my friend Robert. Same voice, same intonations–it’s almost eerie, except it always makes me smile. I haven’t heard his voice or had one of his bear hugs in real life in a while. And now, well, I don’t know what his situation is–whether he’s still in a boarding house or back living on the streets. All I know is, I’m sure hoping and praying he’s okay, wherever he is. And I really, really miss him.
A few nights ago the temperature dipped pretty low. The next morning my phone rang and it was the number from Daybreak, the day shelter in Macon. It was Mac calling me to let me know he was all right. I was so thankful to get that call. The last time I saw him, just before Christmas, he was in a wet overcoat and his clothes were pretty damp too. His temper and pride kept him from getting them clean and dry before he wandered back across and down a little known path to his camp for the time being. I was worried. Wet and cold and do not bode well, especially this time of year when so many are coming down with all kinds of illnesses. So yes, the phone call meant a lot. He hurt himself at the New Year’s Eve festivities downtown last Tuesday night, so getting around is more difficult than usual for him. We talked for a few minutes, and then he said, “Well I just wanted you to know I’m all right. I made it. And I love ya, sister.”
I love you too, brother.
I am fearful of the day when that call might not come.
Something has to change.