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Tidings of Comfort And … Hope!

The recent few days have seen record-breaking cold temps in the Bay Area. To top it off, cold/freezing rain is expected through the weekend. There’s seems to be a new “reflex” added to comments about how cold it is: “…but I’m blessed to have a roof over my head: how are those that don’t surviving in this weather?!” For an unfortunately growing number of years, the memorial service held in front of City Hall for homeless folks* who’ve died is devastating evidence that many don’t survive the street, (hypothermia & pneumonia are among the consequences of exposure).

“Empathy”—that buzz word that seems to have gotten an undeserved bad rap of late, is thank goodness, much in evidence as well, and is warming hearts at least, in these chilling times. Much of this empathy is revealing itself in the conversations that I’m having with our regular and our Holiday volunteers. Compassion and understanding are qualities expressed by our volunteers all along, but the “accent” on today’s economic challenges and conditions is coming through loud and clear. It’s humbling and encouraging to be in the healing mix of those who continue to “show up”, regardless of weather extremes and societal crises, aware but undaunted, and – in good spirits to boot!!! What’s more, no one can walk farther than yard or two in the “TL” these days without seeing one local “Santa” after the next, with that tell-tale red hat donning the heads of so many of our neighbors! Good spirits, indeed!

I’d like to close my Dec blog with a quote that I came across recently:

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness… And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. Howard Zinn, Activist, teacher, & author of “A People’s History of the United States (1980).”

I chased down the etymology of the word “volunteer” today, and it’s root and branches have everything to do with freely willing (to serve). I’d say there’s no doubt that volunteers “make history” everyday with their free and willing service of “compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness…” And, as for those informal community moments—anytime, anyone “volunteers” a sign of hope—even when that is a “signature December hat”… my hat’s off to you!

Healing Holidays and a hope-filled New Year to one and all!

* This year’s Memorial Service for those that have died on the street will be once again on Winter Solstice, December 21st, Civic Center at 5:30pm. It’s organized by NetWork Ministries and the Coalition on Homelessness. Bring a candle and your caring heart.

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