Winter’s First Blast: Homeless Survive?


The winds come howling down the valley, sweeping across the fields, beating against length of our house. I go to the store, buy more plastic window wrap, and winterize the majority of our storm windows. Like last winter, the plastic swells out to form a large, cold bubble barrier.


The snow drops. Not a lot, but enough to get my kids running outside with gloves on to build a mini snowman. It is cold.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…

Everyday, I’m a broken record, saying the same thing to my oldest two kids before they step outside to go to school: “It’s winter. You have a coat. Wear it!”


Dinner has been potato soup and lentil stew for half the week. I push the cart through the store on a quest for more soup ingredients. The weather has warmed up a little, but still, this is my window to try new recipes before it gets really cold again. I pile up all kinds of old/new veggies.

As I turn the ignition key to head home, the shoe box full of granola bars at my feet reminds me of Lars and I decide I have to try to find him in spite of the milk in my trunk. It only takes a few minutes. I park out of sight and debate with myself what to give him.

He’s not wearing the jacket you left him.
Because it warmed up, or because he never used it?
Do you give him anything more than these granola bars?
Is he going to wear these pants and belt?

I carry the pants and belt in the bag and walk through the bushes to the sidewalk. “Hey, Lars.”

“Hey. How are you doing?”

Wow. That’s the first time you’ve asked me a question! “I’m okay. You? Are you warming up your hands there?” I drop the bag on my other side and squat next to him.

Lars keeps rubbing his thick hands together. It’s an endless motion today.

I look closely. No jacket under his usual black, grimey one. “Hey, you made it through the snow. Did you layer up?”

“I made it. I’m here.” He hasn’t answered my question. He didn’t keep the extra jacket.

I squat for a few more minutes. I wonder what he’ll do with these pants. Maybe he’ll use the belt.

I don’t stay long. ‘You have milk in the trunk’ keeps poking me in the head.

But now I’m stuck, Jesus. You identify Yourself with the poor and the broken. You tell us that if we have two coats, we’re to give to the one who has none. Did Lars give the coat away? Or is he intentionally refusing help of a certain kind? Jesus, I want to look at this guy and see You, but that’s hard anymore. You, at least occasionally, I can understand. Won’t You help Lars receive help?

Version 2

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