I spend some time most every week at the library. In the past month or so, I’ve noticed a homeless woman who seems to be spending quite a lot of time there, too. She’s always in the same chair, with a couple of small bags in the chair next to her. Most days, she also has three or four books on the little table that swings from the arm of her chair. Last week, she was walking around in her stocking feet as her boots dried next to the baseboard heater. I remember thinking that it looked like a fairly pleasant way to spend the afternoon – probably a welcome respite. But then again, I thought, what do I know?
When I was at the library today, she was there too, with her nose in a book, just like me. It was 41 degrees or so outside at the time, positively balmy for Chicago in January. But now, at 9:30 p.m., my outdoor thermometer says it’s 7, and with the windchill, I’m sure it’s well below zero. The poor weatherman on TV is looking miserable as the snow blows sideways around him. And I’m sure he’s only out for a few minutes!
I wonder where my fellow-reader is right now. These are the Chicago suburbs. There’s not a series of warming centers like in the city. I know Journeys from PADS to HOPE offers shelter around here, as do PADS organziations throughout the suburbs. I hope she’s able to get to one – or has some other warm place to go. And as I think about her, I’m 1) really grateful for my own warm house, 2) really glad that PADS is one of the organizations my church supports, and 3) fervent about my work with ELCA World Hunger, which is so dedicated to addressing root causes of hunger and poverty. No one should have to wonder where to find heat on a night like this.