A Sufferer Out In Chattanooga's Bitter Cold

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The city is covered in snow. The wind chill now (9:30 a.m.) is negative 4 degrees.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. I bundled up, grabbed my camera, and set out to photograph the frozen city.

I began in North Shore, snapping photos of the dusty white roads and sidewalks. I made my way to Coolidge, where the frosty grass was illuminated by the park’s Christmas tree lights.

The city was quiet. Businesses were closed. People were at home, asleep, and warm.

I drove across Veteran’s Bridge and found a place to park near Walnut Street.

The city was empty, barely alive. The sun had yet to rise.

The Walking Bridge - all lit up and dressed in white - looked beautiful. As I captured photos of her, my fingers throbbed with cold. I put my gloves back on and headed back toward the end of the bridge, toward my car, toward warmth. Before I made it, I noticed and stopped cold.

At first, it just looked like a pile of clothes. But the pile of clothes was shaking. My heart froze at the realization.

I went over and patted the man on the back. He lifted his brown eyes to me, still shaking. I told him, “God bless.” He asked me if I could get him something to eat, and how about a warm cup of coffee? I told him, “Wait, give me some time. I’ll be back.”

I ran to my car, all the while asking God to help this man, to take care of him. I drove to a nearby coffee shop, where I ordered a large cup of coffee and an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

I drove back to my parking space. I walked to the bridge, being careful not to spill any coffee. I prayed that the man was still there. I worried he had given up on me, and left. But where would he go?

As the sun rose to light the Hunter Museum, and steam poured off the icy river, I hopefully made my way back to the bench.

And there he was, still shaking.

I patted him on the back again, his head coming up and his expectant brown eyes reaching toward me. “Thank you,” he said, as I handed him his coffee and breakfast. “I’ll pray for you,” I said. And so I did and so I have.

* * *

I can see snow outside my window, beginning to melt. It’s a bright and sunny day, still cold. I’m not sure what to make of what happened on the bridge this morning, but I know that I am now more thankful for all that I have. My family, my friends, and my home. My small and insignificant worries.

My life is filled with warmth; I bet yours is too. Be thankful for that warmth, and please spread it. 

Early Morning Riser


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