Ah, Bleak and Chill the Winter Wind

“Ah, bleak and chill the wintry wind, but colder far be he who hath no warmth of love to share.”

She had been standing on the corner since morning.  The skies had clouded up, and the first hints of winter snow fell.   But she was standing on the corner, wrapped tightly in her winter coat, the baby in her arms, the sign at her feet.

Few had stopped to ask her how she was.  The lunchtime crowds had hurried from the buildings surrounding her, dwarfing her, and no one noticed or paid much attention.  Like many before her, she stood in the busiest section of the city, not begging, not pleading, but asking.

And being refused.

Some of the shoppers had glanced at her out of the corner of their eyes.  “Why doesn’t she get herself a job,” muttered one to another as they hurried from store to store — their eyes set more on the shop windows than on the street in front of them.

No one read the sign that day.  The snow had stopped early in the evening, but she did not move.  Standing alone in the shadow of the department store, she did little more than smile at the occasional passerby who happened to look her in the eye.

She had eaten her lunch there, from a brown bag like so many others, and had fed the child there as well.  She had watched the setting sun glint upon the multi-story glass buildings, and saw the street lamps light and the trees lit with hundreds of small lights.  And, shortly before nine o’clock, when the streets were finally empty, she left.

The next morning, two others had taken her place and no one noticed the difference.  If they had only looked at the sign.  The sign was there to explain the truth and the need.

No one looked at the sign — yes, it still lay there, leaning wind-worn and tired against the marble.  But we can do what no one else would do.  We can take time to notice the sign and read what it says:

“I’m not asking for money.  I don’t wish for a job.  I have both and I am happy.  But others are not.  And for their sake, please look.  Look past the coldness and remember what Someone said long ago: When you have done it unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me. Open your eyes to those around you and maybe we will find a way to make peace in this world.”

Over two thousand years ago, the signs were ignored, and the cold wind of those who rejected Christ still blows.

Today we have a second chance.

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