The coldest day ever

handprint on frosted window paneWe’ve had a very frigid old snap across most of the United States. Atlanta has seen its coldest temperatures in decades. As someone who grew up in the Northeast, I can only remember a few times in my life that it’s been anywhere near this cold! There’s not much more I can say that hasn’t already been reported about the weather, but like most extreme events, it has given us the opportunity to connect as a larger community.

The comfort we can take in these arctic temperatures is that we’re not alone in our shivering, and we can commiserate with others for a few laughs or groans. The cold weather can bring us closer together, if only in spirit, and that alone is worth something. We have to make the most of small comforts. As I posted this morning on social media, “For hot coffee and warm houses, we give thanks and praise.” Many agreed.

Many of us who were geared up for a busy week back after the holidays are feeling frustrated at sudden changes of plans due to school closings or other issues. But what was brought home to me after the schools announced their closure was that many children here lack the necessary cold weather gear to walk to school or stand at a bus stop. Most of the time, a lightweight winter jacket will suffice (especially since temperatures in Atlanta can swing by as much as 25 degrees in a day) but the deeper issue is that many children simply go without because their families are poor and struggling.

As I sit in my warm home, I’m reminded of people on limited incomes who can’t afford to turn on the heat in their homes. I’m praying for the homeless men, women and children searching for shelters, doorways or underpasses in which to spend the night. We have the luxury of complaining about the inconvenience of this weather, but for many people, it can be truly be a dangerous, life-threatening experience.

In December, my daughter raised over $400 and we purchased cold weather gear for our church’s homeless ministry. At the time, it seemed like a lot but now I wish we had more to offer. So, I can’t say this enough: please donate new or gently used cold weather gear (hats, gloves, scarves, jackets) and blankets to your local homeless shelter or agency that advocates or ministers to the poor and homeless community.

At your child’s school, inquire to the principal or school administrator to find out which children may need winter coats/gear and quietly donate them. Check in on elderly, sick or shut-in neighbors or family members to make sure they are warm, comfortable, well-fed and are in good spirits.

The Buddha said, “Be a light unto yourself”. Similarly, be the warmth of care and compassion that shares its radiance and comfort to others in need. May you stay safe and warm!

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