Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chillin’ in Baton Rouge

My brave fingertips have ventured out from under brown fleece and a double layer of knuckle-covering sleeves. They are on a mission to chronicle my current misery. Whether they do it willingly, I do not know. If my fingers have feet, they are dragging them. At the least, they are working slowly, either from insurrection in the making or simply because they are cold.

I awoke this morning to air so crisp and bracing I welcomed it as an autumn opportunity to tackle my chill from the inside out with steaming coffee. When the first cup failed to produce the anticipated warmth and well being, I doubled down for a second.

Still shivering, I emptied my second cup of aspirational warmth. Caffeine jumpstarted the dawning realization the chilly air was more than personal perspective. The thermostat confirmed this suspicion. It was cold! The temperature fought a losing battle to get out of the 50’s. No amount of threatening, cajoling or providing fresh batteries produced even a whisper of warmth.

We donned double layers, nestled in blankets and eventually spent the better part of the day seeking more congenial environs. We settled our shivering pet in the prime real estate of the heated bathroom floor.  And, yes, we called our personal heating expert who promised to restore normalcy to our frigid domicile first thing Monday morning.

Problem solved. Inconvenience averted. Can’t wait until tomorrow.

But my ‘affliction’ for one day will be a daily reality for the Baton Rouge homeless who live on the streets and huddle under bridges. Many seek the shelter of narrow doorways and press their shivering bodies against the locked doors in a futile attempt to borrow what little heat escapes well-intentioned weather stripping.

A steaming cup of coffee or warm breakfast is a sporadic luxury. There is no thermostat to adjust and no repairman who will make it all right in the morning. Any favors that come their way are small. They must hang their hope on the uncertain generosity of strangers.

I am miserable tonight—not because I am cold, but because my heart is broken for those who have nothing. And won’t have anything again tomorrow. The extra coats I donated last week to the homeless through our church’s Breakfast Under the Bridge ministry are a scant token of my concern. Every coat in our closet wouldn’t provide enough fabric to protect a street dweller from the winter’s advancing cold.

Perhaps I can add some blankets. Maybe even the one that currently drapes my shoulders. At our house, the heat will be on again tomorrow.

‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:40