Thanksgiving and Christmas is such a confusing season. It is supposed to be the season of joy, celebration and happiness, yet many are struggling to see even a glimmer of hope. To those who are homeless, precariously housed, isolated in a SRO or institutionalized, this time of the year is often a season riddled with guilt, regret and grief.
• Guilt over not being able to provide meals or gifts for their families. Guilt over having to rely on organizations and churches. Guilt over the mystery of estranged children and the whereabouts of family members.
• Regret over relationships that have been destroyed and need to be repaired. Regret over the decisions that were once made and now having to suffer the consequences. Regret over not having a home to call their own.
• Grief over what could have been, but isn’t. Grieving over their reality of alienation and rejection. Grieving the lost of those loving family members that once invited them in. Grief over the reality of isolation.
At Cornerstone, we do our best to counterattack these feelings of depression. We offer what we can, with as much energy as we can, and with as much love as we can. This takes form in the beauty of fabulous meals, busses coming to take people to church services and feasts, entertaining shows and a mass of donated gifts and hygiene items. It is our hope and prayer that through our love and these different acts of kindness, our homeless women, men and children will taste the fruits of thanksgiving, celebration and joy.
I am pleased to report many clients have wept with joy, proclaiming that their Christmas and Thanksgiving at CCO was “their best ever.” Apart from the abundance of food and gifts, they are also blessed with the wonderful fellowship and community of people living in and experiencing the same struggle. They are surprised by the mysterious blessings; that they are able to celebrate in their turmoil.
This holiday period, I want to encourage us all to courageously to take a leap of faith. Let us embrace and truly love some lonely, alienated and rejected people. How about inviting a homeless person or displaced immigrant into our homes for the Thanksgiving meal? How about sending a Christmas card to someone in prison? How about volunteering and serving food in a homeless shelter? How about visiting someone living in a hospital, nursing home, treatment center or a SRO? How about giving some gifts to a mother who cannot afford to buy her children anything?
I want to encourage us all; let us creatively use our imaginations and be in prayer as to how we can bless the alienated, the isolated and the homeless this festive season.