As much of an inconvenience the power outage brought about by Irene is causing, in one way it is not as bad as most people make it out to be. Yes the food in my freezer is thawing out, but I figure that we can have a big Labor Day weekend BBQ and invite a lot of people to come enjoy the burgers, sausage and ribs. We might have to take a few cold showers but so far in the three days without electricity, there is still warm water in the water tank. I have been making morning coffee, breakfast and dinner on the grill. I can charge my phone and computer at work (and check my e-mail and blogs), and it remains light enough to work outside the house cleaning up what Irene left behind, which is nothing more than lots of leaves and twigs.
My husband and I have been campers since we were married, so we are considering this a campout, with a few more luxuries, like a toilet, sink and running water. Last night we took all the twigs we collected and some wood left over from a tree we cut down last year and made a fire in the yard. Then we did something that we usually don't do after dinner. We sat and talked, and talked, and talked. Perhaps in this age of Facebook, the internet, blogs, HDTV and cell phones, we needed something like this storm to get us back to basics. Real conversation I believe is becoming a rarity these days. It is so much easier to become a couch potato and sit in front of the TV or computer after dinner than to sit with family and talk about what is going on in our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our fears and even our faith. After my husband went in for the night, I remained outside watching the fire burn down and watched the stars come out. Without lights in our surburban neighborhood, the stars were more visible that they usually would be. I started to pray these lines from Psalm 8.
When I see your heavens, the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars which you arranged,
What is man that you should keep him in mind,
mortal man that you care for him.
Speaking of faith, I find the silence (except for the noisy generator from the neighbor across the street), is a boon to my prayer life. Many times when I try to pray at home I have to compete with the TV, music, and phone. Now there is a stillness and a quiet that is so conducive to prayer. I will miss that when the lights come back on. Then there are the candles...lots of them. There is something about candlelight that is calm and serene. I love praying by candlelight. I am reminded of my reteat last summer where Compline was always prayed by the light of candle, or the Easter Vigil when the Paschal Candle is processed in and slowly the whole church is bathed in candlelight. The fact that Christ is our Light, the One who lights our way in the darkness, comes across so beautifully when all you have is candlelight.
Lest I sound hopelessly romantic about the lack of electricity, I do hope the power comes back soon. Last time we lost it for five days and the cold showers got a bit too cold, I longed for real milk in my coffee, a good football game on TV, and I started going through internet withdrawal. But for now it is an adventure, a time to rediscover some of the things we've lost, a time to set priorities, and a time to realize that living a complicated, noise filled, technology dominated life isn't all its cut out to be and that what's really important are relationships, relationships with God, with family and with friends. So the blackout is really a blessing. Who knows, maybe I'll choose one night a week to have a "blackout" night.