Homeless for the Holidays
They were size 9. Her feet, that is. As I rubbed berry-scented lotion on her calluses, I immediately confessed my rookie foot-washer status. “I’ve never done this before,” I told her. “Does this massage feel OK?” My new friend, Paulette, smiled with confirmation as we began our conversation, and she was grateful — not only for the attempted massage but also for the new pair of shoes she received when we finished.
Paulette was one of hundreds of guests who attended the second annual Christmas Gift Indianapolis event held on December 10 at the Biltwell Event Center to benefit our city’s homeless men, women, and children.
Along with a pair of shoes, each family member received a coat, clothing, blanket, sleeping bag, and scarf/gloves for protection on cold nights. Haircuts, makeup, and manicures were also available while children decorated sugar cookies and worked on crafts. In the banquet hall, live music played as enthusiastic volunteers served a hearty, hot meal creating a welcoming atmosphere that was topped off with warm cobbler — peach, cherry, blackberry, or apple.
While each guest was showered with love along with many treasures, I received a needed gift as well — a new perspective.
You see, despite my intentions to focus on the “reason for the season,” I had become too caught up in the details. I needed this jolt back to reality, one that stretched beyond my comfortable Carmel, Indiana, walls. I needed a new perspective, and I found it at the foot of a stranger — literally.
In the past weeks, while I worried about decorating my house for the holidays, the guests attending this event had no homes at all and certainly no decorations — many had only what they could carry with them as they shuffled from temporary tent housing to cold cement highway alcoves.
While I pondered the Christmas dinner menu, many of my new homeless friends wondered where their next meal would come from and whether they could provide food for their families.
While I stressed about completing all the shopping, wrapping, and entertaining before Christmas, they had no to do list at all, because they had no extra funds for gifts nor parties.
These thoughts simmered as I loaded up my hands with more lotion while we chatted, and I refined my massaging skills. By the end of our time together we realized that despite our circumstances being worlds apart, we had a common bond — our faith in Jesus Christ.
We believed in a God who was bigger than our current situations, and we had a mutual conviction that He could redeem our challenges and personal struggles — even mine, which suddenly seemed so minimal compared to those around me.
What started as a foot washing ended with a prayer as I held the feet of a stranger who I will likely never see again but who helped me see anew.
May these new pair of eyes remain with me, not only this Christmas season but for the rest of my life. Thank you, Paulette.