Sleeping in the Snow



10 January 2017

I was walking along the sidewalk expecting to see Ray standing beside the church. I couldn’t see him. I saw his upturned cap near the sidewalk and thought he may have left to go to the washroom. I thought of putting a meal card in his cap, but feared it might be stolen. Behind a snow drift I saw a man lying next to the building. He was huddled with his hood pulled tight around his face, no sleeping bag, no blanket, nothing separating him from the frozen concrete.

Freezing to death is a real concern, especially when wind chill temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees. In Toronto, Canada’s largest city:

“The only group that even attempts a full accounting is the Homeless Memorial project, a volunteer-run initiative that compiles a list of street-involved people who have died every month. The list stretches back to 1985 and is now over 740 names long. The project recorded 18 homeless deaths in 2014, down from 31 in 2013, and well below the all-time high of 72 in 2005. (Ben Spurr, Now News,Toronto, January 15, 2015.”

I walked over to him and saw that his eyes were closed. I said, “Good morning Ray, are you okay.”

He responded, “Hi, Dennis, it’s good to see you. I haven’t been sleeping well due to this cold weather. I thought this might be a good opportunity to catch up on my sleep.”

“Take heart, Ted, tomorrow will be warmer.”

“Yes, but that’s 24 hours away. The weather forecast is for snow this afternoon turning to freezing rain.

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