SHELTER. 1 a : something that covers or affords protection <a bombshelter> b : an establishment providing food and shelter (as to the homeless) c : an establishment that houses and feeds stray animals.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
I have fallen asleep the last two nights thinking about shelter. I was mostly thinking about the extreme cold for this time of year, and about the homeless and how cold they must be. I’ll bet the onset of cold brings about a new level of fear and uncertainty in their already uncertain lives.
Since I only recently started working at the soup kitchen I don’t have much experience with the homeless. But in my short time volunteering there I have been changed. I can now put faces and a few names with the word homeless in my mind. I have met adorable homeless toddlers and babies that make my heart hurt. I have seen desperation, hunger and resignation in people’s eyes. This is all new to me.
The hard underbelly of life will surprise you if you have been protected from seeing it by a privileged lifestyle. The things I complain about on a regular basis seem silly to me when I think about what many in the world face every morning. As the guy at the soup kitchen said to me “every morning is not a good one” – that is the reality of the homeless life.
As we approach Advent, the season of waiting for our Lord’s nativity, I can’t help but think about Mary and Joseph with no place to go, no place to have the baby. It’s shocking when you really stop and think about Jesus being born into utter poverty, with only a barn or cave as shelter. But it was enough. The miracle of God coming into our world in the flesh happened in the poorest of circumstances. This should make us stop and think.
What are we chasing? What is important? Where do we find shelter?
Today I will find shelter in the arms of God. I will pay attention as He walks with me in the mundane parts of my day. I will pray for the homeless in this cold weather, and I will hope that somehow they can see or feel God in the hard parts of their day. And that may be through the outreach of ordinary people like you and me.