Now I sit here typing as I listen to the wind. I can’t help but think of the people that may be out on the street. I don’t mean people that are out for an evening of frolic and fun. I'm thinking of the homeless right now. I can’t help but worry about those that have no shelter when the weather is like this. If you think about those, who are cold tonight if you put yourself in their shoes…
I pull the thin parka around me as my muscles tense up; my body’s reaction to the cold. My jaw gets tight as I try to keep my teeth from chattering while the wind whips through the street. It creeps in behind my neck forcing its way down my back. I reach up and lift the collar of the coat stretching it to reach my exposed ears as the cold air burns through my flesh. I’m torn between protecting my cold ears with the jacket and the desire to push my hands deep into the pockets to keep them warm. It’s no use. There is no relief. The cold is too much.
I continue walking hoping to find shelter from the cold wind. My face is burning now from the cold air. My nose is running. I reach up to wipe away what has dripped off the tip of my nose. I have to laugh as I realize ice has collected just there. I keep going if for no other reason than to keep my blood moving. If I don’t stand still; if I keep walking my blood will continue to work its way through my body, keeping me, well not warm, but alive. I turn as the passing car interrupts my thoughts. They don’t even notice me. They look right through me as if I'm not standing here freezing. I'm not surprised. I see that all the time.
I've now reached the alley I'm hoping will at least shelter me from the wind. I lean against the brick as I slide down that wall and sit, curled up hoping I can produce enough heat to keep my blood moving. My teeth are chattering again. My joints are getting stiff. Maybe I shouldn’t sit still.
I’m really tired. I need to rest for a little while then I'll get up and move around some. I sit quietly with my thin jacket wrapped tightly around me. I can hear the noise of the night floating away. I can see my breath, so I must still be alive. It’s getting colder. I’m so tired. My eyelids are getting heavy. I force them open and look around one more time.
I see no one, I only hear voices as they slowly drift off into the night.
My feet are tingling. Maybe it’s warming up. My neck hurts, I need to straighten up. Instead, I lean over and lay down, curling up tighter into a ball. I think my breathing is getting shallow. No, I’m just tired. I can’t stay awake; I don’t want to stay awake. If I sleep, I won’t feel the cold. I don’t want to be cold anymore. I’ll rest for a while. It’s okay, just for a few min….
The image above is the life of a young girl freezing in an alley. Will she wake up and walk to stay alive? Or will she freeze there curled up in a ball against that brick wall? You won’t know because this is where the vision ends.
Her story is the story of many homeless people in this country that fight to stay alive during the long winter months. Each of singularly may not be able to do away with the reality that is portrayed in this short vision. But collectively we can make a difference.
Please take a few minutes this winter to locate a shelter in your area and donate what you can to help those in need of a warm place to stay during the frigid winter months.