There is no butterfly design quilt stored in a hermetically sealed bag to sell eventually on e-bay. Instead, a church quilting group chose to make sleeping bags for homeless people and pray for each bag’s recipient. They chose the value of saving a life over monetary gain.
To give a sleeping bag to someone who is homeless requires us to push aside the tendency to judge. But like nails screeching on a blackboard, the question that will shake one’s sensibilities is why does this person not go the prescribed route of staying in a homeless shelter? One wonders, especially if it is cold weather and the person is choosing to sleep outside or in an unheated space. One sees how their choice worsens their alienation.
Be aware each homeless person’s situation is individual. Often the unsheltered homeless individual has been traumatized or has become anti-social/withdrawn based on life events. Some withdraw from the mainstream of life due to mental illness. A few – not the majority – choose an unsheltered lifestyle so they can “walk on the wild side.” Whatever the cause of a person’s situation, no doubt most homeless people are going through a dark night of the soul. An act of compassion shows there is light in their situation.
The gift of a sleeping bag is not to be an expression of enabling, or condoning irresponsible or criminal behavior. It is a true act of compassion, especially during cold temperatures when it is not uncommon to find a homeless man or woman who has frozen to death. A sleeping bag is a cushion between vertebrae and cement. It prevents one’s body temperature from plummeting when mercury in a thermometer shrinks drastically.
Many in our society consider the homeless population to be throwaway people. Proponents of this intolerance usually are people who live comfortable, hermetically sealed lives. One who lives in a homeless condition is stigmatized, stereotyped and outcast. Homeless peoples’ lives have become so devalued they are America’s equivalent to India’s untouchables.
A sleeping bag is a cocoon, not a sarcophagus. The human beings ensconced in the sleeping bags have unlimited potential. Like butterflies, some will emerge and overcome their homeless plight. Some will be transformed and even become agents of transformation. As the sleeping bag is given, someone’s reservation at the morgue has been cancelled.