I'm so grateful for central heat and automatic coffee makers and a husband who helps manage the house. I'm grateful that I can make hot oatmeal for breakfast if I want, that I have plenty of warm clothes, and that I can change to cooler clothes when the sun comes out later. That I can work in the yard when the weather's dry but the ground is still soft from recent rain. That I have work that matters to me and can do it at my own pace.
By the time I get downtown tomorrow, it'll be warm and sunny. The folks living under the bridges will be relatively dry and warm. I can offer a few sack lunches and sample-size soap and toothpaste, and I'll feel a little sad that I can't show up with piles of hot food, but it's going to be a lovely weekend in Portland.
People will still be rifling through the trash cans. They find quite a bit of reasonably good food near the market, where people are buying over-sized portions and throwing away half of them. The affluent consumers don't linger long enough to see the street people come along after them and dig for leftovers. It doesn't occur to them to walk up to a stranger and say, "I can't finish this, would you like some?" before tossing it away.
Sitting in a booth all day, people-watching, I am more aware than most of both extremes and everything in between. I can't collect half-eaten plates. I have to beg for the untouched, unopened foods that haven't been kept warm for more than a couple of hours. Even with my frugal nature and dedicated awareness, I can't get all the edible food to hungry people. It's an uncomfortable knowledge, and I, like most of us, let what I can't do fade to the back of my mind.
Our fog of unawareness protects us from constant discouragement and depression. We need our fog. But the sun will come out, and the bright light will shine on our goodness and our weakness. I hope we take the opportunity to see all of humanity, not just the easy parts, and to allow our hearts to connect with one another. The more we do that, the more light can reach into the darkest recesses and touch the loneliest among us. We don't have to clear away all the fog. It's enough to let our own small light shine into one dark place.