Saturday evening I was down on my hands and knees, grumbling about fitted sheets and how making the bed would be so much flipping easier if there were fitted sheets.
Perhaps I should back up…
Saturday evening I was setting up pads, a.k.a. beds, for PADS.
PADS is a temporary overnight housing program, usually held in a church, where the homeless come for a meal, a warm place to sleep, a shower, laundry and breakfast. The youth and I do the set up when it’s our church’s turn to host at the PADS site in town.
I typically put pillow cases on or bring blankets to each room. But Saturday I was down on the hard floor, trying to make beds with 2 flat sheets. Do you have any idea how difficult that is? The pads move around, the sheet comes undone when you move it and try to add the top sheet. It doesn’t look crisp and neat, like a bed should look. Every year I complain about the lack of fitted sheets. Maybe I need to do something about it. Hmmm…
After I had made my 4th bed, my knees and lower back were killing me. The youth work a lot faster than me so the room I was working in was almost finished, so I stopped and helped elsewhere. Then we added more beds to the lounge area. In all, I think the youth made about 50 beds.
When the group leaves, we always run into folks waiting outside. Mostly it’s men. Sometimes it’s women. Sometimes it’s a mom with a child or a teen. There was one woman with a toddler hanging out inside the door. Not sure if she was helping out or waiting for a bed. Either way, it tugged at my heart.
Saturday evening the group and I left, all of us getting into cars, saying “See you at Mod Pizza!” Sitting on the curb in between my car and another was a homeless man. Just the thought of saying, “See you for dinner!” to the others around me made my heart sink. I almost became nauseous. I bet that man would love a fresh, warm pizza. And here I get to go, swipe my credit card that I know will be reimbursed from the church, and buy pizzas for the youth and the youth’s family, a treat for helping out at PADS. If God wasn’t staring me in the face at that moment then golly…
I’m incredibly blessed to have warm bed, food in the fridge and a family who helps out when I need it. I’m incredibly blessed that I can eat out with the youth, by myself or with friends, that I can swipe my credit card in exchange for a pizza. I can only imagine the man sitting by my car was concerned about at that moment was a warm bed. It may be on the floor in an old church. It may be uncomfortable. I don’t know. But it’s a bed. Plus, there is a meal and community, even for one night.
Homelessness shouldn’t exist. There’s too much of it in our country. I’ve learned all about the cost of living since I moved out on my own. It’s ridiculous how much I spend in rent in a suburb of Chicago. But these are the times we are a living. Didn’t someone famous write or sing about that once?
I don’t typically give to folks on the street when I see them in need. I don’t usually hand out money when someone wanders into the church on a Sunday morning looking for a pastor and I try to send them to a community outreach program. The Spirit may tug but my conscience tells me otherwise. I do give to Bridge Communities, who assists families with transitional, temporary housing. I do give of my time to PADS and make beds without fitted sheets once a month. It’s small and probably doesn’t seem like a lot but I know those few beds I made warm a person’s heart, even for a night.
I’m not looking for praise for doing these small things, in fact, I often feel like I don’t do enough. However, I’m reminded of Jesus, of the story he told about someone who cleaned the wounds of a stranger, who put that stranger up in a hotel until he healed. If the end of homelessness and poverty are not in our grasps, then you know what? I’ll get down on my knees and make 25 beds on my own. Fitted sheets and bad knees and aching backs, all so someone can feel like a human for one night. All so someone, a stranger, can feel warmth and hospitality, even for one night.