Sunday, December 27, 2015

Winter, When It's Convenient

                                PHOTOS/EDITS BY RUTH RADER

It's two days after Christmas and I am waiting for the guy who makes the decision, to update the
message on his phone. Every day Brian leaves a message before 2pm on the answer line that is
hooked up to the winter shelter network in this town. And every day, a group of homeless human
beings wait for the words: "It's open" or "It's closed."

Whatever Brian decides...the weather outside remains the same: IT'S WINTER HERE!

The people that staff the winter shelter (depending on what church building it is located in at
the time) were not real congenial to me this morning. And that is why I will be happy leave them
to their petty, hypocritical crabbiness on Thursday morning. Buh Bye!

However, I am concerned about the homies that use and need (when it's actually open) the
shelter here. I will leave but they will stay.

It amazes me to realize just how blind those who are closest to the homeless situation here are.
I mean, you would think they would know better. But they don't.

It's nothing for Brian to just blithely leave a message on the winter shelter line announcing to
anyone who calls: "The winter shelter will be closed tonight."

Of course, what he does not say is "Tough for you...hope you have a big, thick blanket because
the wind is going to pick up at 2am and blow cold snow in your face." OR "You
could go to the Bethlehem Inn in Bend but...wait...they won't see you until sometime after 8pm
...wait...they're full...Oh well...I gotta go and turn the thermostat up before I go to bed." OR "We
have a running bet going here on how many of you bums are going to freeze or meet with some
sort of social violence when you're outside this winter."

No, he never says anything like that. But he might as well.

I don't know what the dollar and cent situation is with regard to the winter shelter here but I do
know that those who make the decisions would be wise to remember one thing:

Every person who is out in the cold, whether male or female, young or old...mean, crazy or nice,
addicted or a responsibility that has been handed to them by God. We are not a
group of hamsters, we are not a "pet" (pardon the pun) project, we are not just someone to dole
socks out to and absolve some semblance of conscience, we are not a list of scribbled names in
a notebook, we are not a "Christian duty" or part of a greater, stricter agenda. We are people,
recognized by God if not always seen by the winter shelter staff...and when they look at us...if
they look at us...they see the truth.

What truth is that?

Stoned, sober, drunk or high...what truth am I referring to?

What I wouldn't give to see one of the winter shelter staff people here...figure out the answer
to that question.

I have been fortunate to have made many friends in this community. And they all realize just how
cold I get when I am outside these days. One by one, they have seen me and instantly reacted. Every
single one of them.

So what's wrong with the local winter shelter staff here? Why don't they see the situation in the
same way?

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