We rolled in around midnight like thick fog. Heavy, tired, confused. There were five other people from the church who were waiting for us. All gay and except for me and one other 40 something who was manager of a KFC, all unemployed. At least two were on disability, glorified welfare at least for the one, Jackson. The other may have been unstable. Seemed a little nervous and was thin as a rail. Two were black, strike that, one claimed to be biracial and was a little slow.
We had signed up for the midnight to 4am shift. Not long after getting there Cathy pulled me aside and said we should leave, it doesn’t take seven churchies to watch over one sleeping homeless woman. I agreed but we were staying.
I never saw any more of the woman than a lump in the sleeping bag. I know her name was Tina. Not sure of her age or race or circumstance except that today they would be bringing her to the resource center and then “home.” Home was the gazebo in Lewes.
We all sat around and kibitzed and proselytized about everything from West Rehoboth to the presidential race. And how cold it was in the church. Outside it was about 16 degrees when you factored in the wind chill.
What we didn’t talk about was Tina. How awful it must be to sleep alone on a church floor and have nowhere to go, no one looking out for you. It was the elephant in the room. Secretly I imagine we were all thinking the same thing: thank God that isn’t me. That maybe if we sat here at church God wouldn’t let that happen to us.
I think about how selfish I am. How is it that when you hear how people didn’t take in Mary and Joseph you think how cold the people were. For us not to take in people like that we are considered cautious. Maybe we are just like them.
When we came home, I asked Cathy, “Do you think we should take her in?”
I said no more but was somewhat relieved. What if we took her in and she had mental issues or substance abuse problems? We aren’t equipped to deal with that. How would we ever get rid of her? What about when mom comes on Thursday? Would I have my mom sharing a bathroom with a homeless stranger? What if she killed us all in our sleep? What if that were me?
They may call and ask us to sit vigil again tonight. It will be harder since I have to work tomorrow but not impossible. In your mind you tell yourself that at least you are doing something.