Christmas at the homeless shelter - Catholic Courier

Christmas at the homeless shelter

As the door to the room at the women’s homeless shelter slowly swung open while I was on a tour several years ago, I saw a young woman about my age standing watch over her pajama-clad son, who was curled up on top of a bed.

He looked to be about 2 or 3 years old. He was old enough to climb out of his crib, which was why she decided it would be safer to have him nap on her bed, she explained.

As he slept peacefully, he was blissfully unaware of the tour group members who looked over the room he and his mother shared in the homeless shelter.

As a new mom, I immediately saw myself and my son in this little boy and his mother. I tried to imagine raising an active toddler in one room of a homeless shelter, and I had a "There but for the grace of God go I" moment.

The tour took place in late November, and that day I couldn’t help but think of Mary and Joseph standing watch over Jesus as shepherds and Magi tromped into the stable, wanting to gaze at their bundle of wonder.

I’ve always wished I could have insight into what they thought of the attention paid to Jesus’ birth, and the less-than-luxurious accommodations into which he entered the world.

Did someone along the way give them a hand to get more comfortable, whether in the stable or when they were fleeing to Egypt?

Would I have closed my curtains or opened my door to them?

What should I — and what should we — do today?

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