One memory forever etched in my shelter director memory is a painful one--a funeral of a little baby whose life began at our shelter with his parents. The miniature white coffin, donated by a funeral home, held the tiny body that had brought so much joy to his parents just days before.
As I recall, the cause of death was SIDS. But the cause of death was lost in the heartache of parents and friends who gathered on the wintery day to say good-bye to this little loved one.
Some would be surprised to learn that people without homes have love. In society's bumbling way of handling challenges, we tend to dehumanize, reducing our guilt and feelings of inadequacy. When "John" and "Marie" buried their beloved baby, their uphill plans for a post-shelter future were shattered.
We lose the gruesome reality that in America, the land of plenty, probably over a million little ones--babies and tykes--face a life that starts with a great deficit. Even factoring in loving parent/s, when a baby's formation years--the most crucial time of an infant's development--are spent struggling for survival--the core of homelessness for children--then the playing field is mud-filled. Sure they can make it, but hardships take a devastating toll.
Poverty, the root cause of homelessness, continues to be the darkness in this great country. We allow it to sap the life from infants to elderly women and men. We find energy, attention and resources to expend on the trivial, and wonder why the substance of society crumbles around us.
Seems to me it's time to move forward to the LIGHT--a respect for life that includes people of all walks of life, the young, old and in-between. On this day marking the beginning of the season of light, each one of us can decide how important life is--for ourselves and for those around us. And, assuming each of us grasps the hope of Solstice, we can move forward, in whatever way our heart leads, to do whatever we can do to hold life sacred. We shouldn't have to prematurely bury babies, children, teens or adults who perish in our abundantly blessed land because they lacked the basics of life.