Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why is he wearing a plastic bag?

I saw a man at church today wearing a plastic bag for a coat. And I haven't been able to get him out of my mind. He comes regularly on Sundays, and sits in the church courtyard. Sometimes chatting with another homeless man, sometimes sitting quietly by himself. Today he was a few feet away from the goodie table, where volunteers bring in baked goods to sell. It pained me to stand there, with my warm coat on, watching him...without a coat.

I asked one of the women handling the food if anyone had offered him anything to eat. No one had. We go to an amazing church. I love it. It is known far and wide for the wonderful peace and justice work that parishioners and staff engage in - personally. Yet...when a lone man stands off to the side, with a garbage bag on as a coat, it scares us. It makes us uncomfortable.

But, for me, today, coming out of church and not saying or doing something felt very wrong. Especially since our rector had just mentioned in his sermon that we're collecting coats this week. So many people on the streets without. Hungry. Cold.

Why is he wearing a plastic bag? GIRL asked.

Because, he doesn't have a coat, sweetie.

GIRL and BOY watched him. There were no more questions. They recognized by my response that he was homeless.

I approached the man. Offered him food from our table. He declined. Politely. Said he was full up. Smiled at me. I'm not sure I believed him, but I took him at his word. Maybe he wasn't hungry. I won't know. But, my own piece of angel food cake felt stuck somewhere between my throat and my heart. And I want to find that man a coat. This week. Then it will feel like Christmas.

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  1. Indeed.
    Christmas is about giving...
    I just hope that when you finally found a coat for him, he is still around.... 'cos people like them would never stay in the same place for too long....

  2. Coat or no coat, the man is warmer for your kindness.

  3. Thank you for the Christmas perspective. You are a true Christian. Make it work. And let us know if you need help doing it.

  4. I hope you are able to give him one. I always wonder what the story is, when I see a homeless person. I always long to talk to them, but I hate to admit, there is a fear there.

    A guy I dated asked a homeless man if he'd like to go get pizza with him. He said it was the best piece of pizza (the man ate the rest!) he ever had.

  5. Hearing a bit too much sad news of late. I'm sure your kindness was appreciated.

  6. How wonderful it will be when you find one and give it to him. And what a lesson for your children.

  7. Thanks, ladies. I was able to find a coat! A good, LARGE, thick football coat. My girl and I delivered it to my rector this morning, and he knew the man's name! Apparently he doesn't miss a 7:30am service. Ed is going to see that Billy Bonds gets his coat. Billy Bonds. Keep him in your prayers.

  8. Awwwww, your a good one JCK! You inspire me all the time!

  9. You know, the fact that you spoke to him while others ignored him probably did him as much good as the coat you found for him.


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