Friday, January 21, 2011
A Prayer for Warmth
The difference between 92 degrees and 72 is the difference between hot and comfortable, fair enough. But find a place in the shade with a cool breeze and 92 is not usually impossibly unbearable.
The difference between 72 and 52 is even less a difference - the difference between pleasant and slightly cool. No big deal. Put an extra shirt or jacket on.
The difference between 52 and 32 is still not that great. Sure, you need to put on a jacket and an extra layer or two and you'll be okay.
But, the difference between 32 degrees and 12 degrees - 20 degrees below freezing - is a huge difference. You move from merely cold to literally freezing. Your hands stiffen and turn dry and red. Your cheeks sting and you can tell immediately if you don't have enough socks on your feet. This is the sort of cold that hurts.
However, walking half an hour or an hour through this sort of weather is not unbearable, IF you're prepared for it. Today is one of those days. I wore three layers of shirts and three layers of jackets. I had a cap on my head and extra longjohns and socks on to keep my legs and feet warm. Thus prepared, it's just a slightly brisk walk - and that, from a heated home to a heated office. Not that big of a deal.
Having said that, every day on my way to work, I walk past my homeless brothers and sisters. I pass by the mental health agency where shivering, marginalized souls suffer outside the doors, waiting for the office to open. I pass by the folk who stay at the homeless shelters as well as the homeless who camp out.
I see their suffering, dry skin and frozen noses and know that there is a world of difference in twenty degrees. I recognize the huge difference in taking a short-lived walk from warm building to warm building and in standing - just standing - waiting in the bitter cold. Waiting for a chance to get in some place warm and welcoming (hard to come by, that). Waiting for warmer weather, which is MONTHS away, not minutes.
Wondering if you'll live to see Spring's thaw again.
So today, I lift up a prayer for our homeless friends, to our mentally ill friends, to all those out suffering especially on these coldest days. I lift up a prayer of thanks for Diane, for Donna, for Sally's and VOA and Jeff Street and all those places and people who offer a warm cup of coffee and an open door into a warm respite.
"For I was cold, and you offered me a jacket and a warm place to stay."