Trinity Out-Reach Center of Hope

Pastor Steve Sherman, Reflects on his Cold Hands Warm Hearts Experience

Reflections on Cold Hands Warm Hearts Event

When Rev. Jake Morrill first suggested the idea of sleeping out to raise awareness for homelessness in Oak Ridge, I was all in. With all the hiking and camping I have done, I thought it would be a breeze to spend one night outside in the city. After my two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, I have gained an appreciation for living minimally. So this wouldn’t be a big deal, right? Wrong.

I thought I handled the cold well because I could run from my house to the car in the coldest weather without a coat. I also thought that if I just bundled up good, I would be fine no matter how cold it got. I was wrong on both counts.

When I arrived at First United Methodist, I didn’t look much different from how I look most winter Sunday mornings, wearing a suit with an overcoat. The real difference was in the thermal underwear and extra socks. I was so warm, in fact that I decided to forego the overcoat for some time!

But as the evening went on, the temperature dropped. So I not only put the overcoat back on, but also donned gloves and later a warm hat. I arrived in wingtips but had also brought along some warm hiking boots. I had offered my boots to Rev. Brian Scott earlier in the evening, but then put those on too, when my feet started to get numb.

When someone suggested that we stand or sit on cardboard rather than the grass, I was willing to try anything, and that brought more relief than I expected. Still, the cold just seemed to be working its way past all my layers of defense.

So I was relieved when it came time to bed down for the night. My “bed” was a nice sleeping bag on a sleeping pad, in a three season tent. Unfortunately, my three season tent had seen a few TOO many seasons, and the window had deteriorated and cracked, leaving large holes. While I knew the tent was not waterproof, I thought it would keep in enough heat to keep me warm for the night. Again, I was wrong.

As I lay within my sleeping bag, in my tent, the cold continued its assault on my comfort. Turning over only made me feel even more cold, with the warmer side now feeling colder and the colder side not yet warmed up. As anyone who knows me can probably tell you, I am not a morning person. So, since I had the next day off, I had thought that I might just sleep in past the 6 a.m. commitment I had made. But when 6 a.m. finally arrived, I was awake and ready to go home to a warm bed!

While I was surely not comfortable that night, it was a great experience. The best part was the companionship of all those who also participated in this event. Whether it was someone from my church or another church; someone who brought food or a donation for the warming shelter; someone who was staying the night or someone from our host, First United Methodist; all demonstrated levels of care, concern, and self-sacrifice that exemplified the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am terrifically grateful for the opportunity to be part of this, and I pray that we may work together to better help those who are left out in the cold.

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