Winter Is Here!

Statue of St. Vincent DePaul outside DePaul Center in the Loop

Friday, January 11, 2019

This past Wednesday marked the coldest day yet in my time downtown with LoopNaz. Overall, the weather really hasn’t been that bad. But Wednesday was the first day while I’ve been in the Loop that it has dropped below 20 degrees.

As it happens, Wednesday is also our longest prayer walk of the week, taking us around the perimeter of the entire CTA Union Loop. So we had a good hour ahead of us in this weather.

As it also happens, I hadn’t eaten since the morning. Before we started our prayer walk, I almost had asked Reuben if I could stop somewhere to grab food. However, I had already arrived a little late, and I didn’t want to take away any more time, so I had decided to not say anything.

So as we started our prayer walk, I found myself dealing with distractions from both the cold and hunger.

However, it was in the midst of these distractions, that I realized how much colder and hungrier so many of our neighbors feel who we pray for and who we also want to care for.

While it might have the coldest day I had been downtown in the past month, it was far from the coldest day that many of our neighbors without shelter might experience. And mine is far from the same experience they might endure through many cycles of day and night.

When it comes down to it, I have the security of a warm place to return to at the end of the day.

I never have to fear being kicked back out onto the streets.

I never have to question where I’m going to sleep at night when the temperature drops even lower.

I never have to question, in the midst of trying to stay warm, how I might get my next meal.

I’ve never been torn between finding a means to stay warm or finding food to eat.

I’ve never found myself laying on the sidewalk outside a storefront in the Loop wrapped in a blanket trying to sleep, like more than one of the neighbors we encountered on Wednesday.

I’ve never found myself riding the Red Line back and forth trying to fit in brief periods of sleep before I have to get off and on again.

I’ve never had restless night after restless night because the wind was blowing so strong and so cold that I couldn’t sleep.

And so a prayer that I’m committing to is that there would be both hope and relief for those experiencing homelessness in the Loop. That through neighborly compassion, those of us privileged enough to be neighbors with more might come to serve our neighbors better who are in greatest need.

Author avatar
Elise Fetzer

Elise is a senior Intercultural Studies major at Olivet Nazarene University from Oak Lawn, IL. She is serving with LoopNaz as part of her cross-cultural field studies coursework.