i've been thinking about the holidays today and things i saw and participated in. the christmas spirit was abundant this year with the economy getting better, the wars winding down and people not under so much stress as in the past few years. volunteers served at missions and soup kitchens. people would stop their car and randomly give the homeless warm clothes and other items for the winter months. missions and shelters made sure everyone had hats, gloves, scarves and things needed to survive the winter winds. dining halls served holiday meals with volunteers helping serve the homeless in a manner they're not accustomed to. the homeless themselves were in a better spirit for a week or two, temporarily feeling they weren't forgotten and that people did know they exist. agencies and services were abit more eager and accommodating in their assistance to the homeless and those seeking services. from libraries to restaurants to missions to shelters, everyone treated the homeless with more courteous attention than normal. call it the christmas spirit, call it the sudden awareness of the plight of the homeless, call it guilt, call it a self satisfying burst of humanitarianism. call it what you will. but thinking about it today i wondered to myself what would happen if we could extend these things beyond christmas and into the entire year. what if we were as aware of the homeless and those struggling all year long as we are during the time of christmas giving and the compassionate awareness that envelopes most us during that time
while i was thinking about all of this it occurred to me that there are already people who extend this feeling of compassion and caring all through the year. there are people who display the spirit of giving and love every day. they're here, right in wilmington delaware. they serve and care for the homeless every day, every week, every month, year in and year out. the friendship house organization who opens every morning so the homeless have a place to stay out of the early morning cold does it. they provide shelter to different segments of the homeless from prison reintegration to the eldery to women recovering from homelessness. the ministry of caring who operates the emmanuel dining rooms in this city that feed the homeless and those who are struggling with food insecurties. they serve the homeless with respect, courtesy and kindness.....every day. sister maria anna can be found walking among the homeless and speaking with them. she knows most of them by name, all of them by face. she has a book she carries where she sketches every homeless man,woman or child she encounters and writes their first name beside it. saint patricks church on french street extends this spirit to the homeless with a warm, welcoming respite where you can relax in a safe, clean environment. they serve pastries and coffee every weekday morning. the sunday breakfast mission provides a place to eat, sleep and shower in a welcoming environment. they don't ask you how you became homeless or why you're there. they just say come inside for the nite. there are more...churches, nonprofits, individuals, agencies....too numerous to mention. but every day they extend the christmas spirit to the homeless. they say yes when everyone else says no. they say welcome when everyone else says leave. they care....when noone else does. they help you when everyone else abandons you. the christmas spirit is indeed alive and well in wilmington delaware. for all of this city's problems and broken dreams.....it is still a caring, compassionate and loving city that attempts to ensure the homeless have the basics of daily survival.
i won't wonder any longer what would happen if we could extend the christmas spirit year round. from now on i'll just look around at these organizations and individuals. they are the christmas spirit. they are the best of men and women.
see you around town