I have to admit that, going into this journey, I didn’t really know what to expect. Yes, I’d been homeless before, both by choice and not—and yes, I’ve done my share of camping over the years … but never in such cold temperatures, especially like we’ve had in the last week.
I also have to admit that the first couple of days were fun. The temperature would go down into the twenties at night, but I had prepared so I was relatively warm. Then the temps would jump back up during the day, the sun would pop out, and I’d jokingly tell Vicki that I could shut my eyes and pretend I was at the beach. (Not really, but it sounded good!)
After about Day 2, the feeling of adventure started to wear off and reality began to set in. And now a week has passed, the days have blurred together, and I honestly cannot remember not being cold. The only real relief I get is when I’m in my sleeping bag. So I endure the cold as long as I can, then crawl into my sleeping bag to get warm. But once I start to get warm, I fall asleep—sometimes for hours—only to wake and feel guilty for sleeping so much. Even so, before long I have no choice but to start the cycle all over again. Because of this, my brain is now immersed in an unending fog of depression, discouragement, and survival mode.
Something I’ll take away from this leg of the journey is this: it’s exhausting to be cold all the time: mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. And when you get warm, you can’t stay awake. I have a new understanding of the homeless person napping in the sunlight on the park bench: they’re not necessarily lazy at all. There’s a good chance they’re warm for the first time in hours, or maybe days.
When I wake from my fog for a minute, I remind myself that I only have another week out here … and I wonder if I’m man enough to make it—to stay out here another week in these conditions.
And then it hits me: Wait a minute. What about all my friends who are out here with no end in sight? No matter how they ended up here, many of the homeless have no choice but to sleep in the cold. There’s nothing they can do; they have no place to go. They can only hope that one day it’ll be better—unless they lose hope. Then there is nothing.
It’s up to you and me, through the love and grace of Jesus, to help the restore that hope.