by Peter Gathje
This first appeared in the Radical Hospitality blog
Conversation from this morning at Manna House where we opened early because it was 23 degrees at 6:46a.m.
Robert Lee (a guest): “It’s a cold world.”
When we pray as we open, we hold hands because we know “the only chain that we can stand is the chain of hand in hand.” In the winter I can feel the cold hands of those who have spent the night on the streets. Our guests can feel my warm hands as I have spent the night in a warm bed in a warm house (even though I keep my thermostat set at 61 degrees).
After we pray we begin to serve coffee, and those cold hands warm up quickly when put around a cup of hot coffee.
Today was Thursday, so it was a men’s shower day. Thanks to our new “on-demand” hot water heater, every man who showered had hot water. Thanks to donors, every man who showered was able to put on clothes that will help to keep him warm. Joseph even got a very fine coat, not technicolor, but still one that would protect him from the cold. Keith got some shoes so his feet will stay warm (his old ones had big holes where the cold seeped in). Hats, gloves, scarves, blankets–all went out today to our guests who came in chilled.
We did all this with warm hearts of welcome, inviting people to stay in the warmth of the house.
“Little by little” Dorothy Day used to say. Little by little we seek to take the edge off this cold world.