IN THE NEWS |  #noogastrong



Yesterday, I ran the bridges. The Chattanooga Bridges.

The Walnut and the Market, two of the arching structures that span our river, the Tennessee.

Those who know me a little bit, know I run a lot. Not out of discipline, out of necessity, to make me a more tolerable Energizer Bunny to the other more docile creatures who share my habitat, my city, my home.

That need to run means I've run in exotic and exquisite locales, the busy but fascinating smoggy streets of Taiwan, the pristine-thin edges of Italian alps, the salty, eucalyptus scented spine ridges of Malibu. I notice the air; I have asthma.

But, the only place I always ritually remember to stop, mid-run and, no matter how winded, to say "thank you God", is on the bridge where I say thank you for this, this TN muddy water view, this dragonfly skimming, catfish swimming beauty, and for the ability to run, to move unimpeded, freely. That prayer inevitably happens over the Tennessee.

Whether the air is the pollen saturated springtime air of TN allergy April, the chilly gray damp air of our February, or the wet blanket air of mid summer, I pause and breathe, as best I can, and offer thanks.

Im thankful because, of course, the city, Chattanooga, is just visually stunning.

And life has blessed me with enough experience to know that to run anywhere freely without containment, is a gift, but especially it's a gift if that safe haven is your hometown.

And more than that, this prayer means I thank God for a city that holds my crazy beautiful and immensely talented family, my irrationally loyal childhood friends and the food, the fauna, the flora, and- most importantly- the faith that has built me, the faith that sustains me, and no matter how I might wrestle with it, the faith that defines me. Or I pray it does.

I thank God for these sacred elements, famliy, friends, fauna, flora and faith. These elements are as much a part of my spiritual communion as the wine and the bread and as much a part of my double helixcode as the DNA that reads biologically Irish, Dutch and yes, like most of us from this region, Cherokee.

I stopped mid-bridge yesterday to say this prayer of thanks. For all of these gifts. In one asthmatic, imperfect, doubting but grateful breath.

The next time I stopped to breathe from my run yesterday, I heard the news.

During my run, a few miles away from these bridges, tragedy had just struck. And fear, that wing-clipping fear that I sometimes feel running in other locations (at dusk in parts of Central Park in NYC or in other more ominous international settings) that fear was here but it was unfamiliar to me because it had reached me. At home. It had touched my faith.

Since the news, I haven't stopped. Running.

I started running the reporters' relay: the juggling of source and phone call and fact.

And, it was only tonight, that I caught my breath for a moment, and that then I paused again, to breathe, and pray. And say thanks.

At the Olivet service.

There was much to be grateful for: I was grateful for the southern way with words and the eloquence that makes southern statesmen poets first, politicians second.

For my friend's rendition of God Bless America.

For my Jewish NY transplant friend who held my hand as we sang "I need thee Every Hour".

For the Muslim women in headscarves unable to control their sobs.

And for a faith and a calling that, as was said tonight, calls us to seek peace in our city.

And, I'll add, one of my favorite verses from Micah, calls me to try "to do justice, seek mercy and walk humbly with Our God".

During the service as we joined hands, I paused "mid-bridge" to finally catch my breath and pray.

And, like the prayer of my run yesterday, it was a prayer of gratitude.

I said thank you for this city.

Our beautiful ‪#‎Chattanoogastrong‬ city, my #Chattanoogaproud home.

News Article Data:

Written by: Millicent Smith
Published in: The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Date Published: 
Photo credits: Diana and  Becky Chinchen credit to Bobby Pall at