At 7:02 am the power shut off. In that unexpected moment, everything seemed to stand still.
A Lengthy Blackout
I thought it was a simple short, but it's in a moment like that we realize something more may be at work. This outage wasn’t localized to our home or neighborhood, but had blanketed our area in early morning hush. Only later did we learn that over 100,000 customers had been affected by a failing tower and subsequent set of explosions.
The power outage took 16 hours to restore, but the unexpected lessons learned through the day proved invaluable.
It was Sunday, arguably a good day for such a power inconvenience to occur.
Except for at churches.
Ours was no exception. But the resourceful way our church leaders dealt with the challenge impressed me. One back-up generator allowed for services to go on and little disruption.
Sure, the song words were not on the screen. Sure, there was no spotlight on the lead vocalists, nor on the pastor when he spoke. But in a nation so accustomed to having 24/7 power access, these proved minor inconveniences.
In fact, that very day we had invited some Turkish friends who had expressed interest to visit our church. Everything seemed so low tech; we wondered what they thought.
"Oh, no. We lose power like this all the time. It's not unexpected," one friend told us.
Overly Dependent upon Electricity
The lack of power throughout the day revealed our ridiculous dependence on it. Yet the lack of power forced us to be more innovative in our activities and in how we ate. This pushed us to better recognize and live out the true meaning of Sabbath.
I know all members of our family experienced a bit of disorientation. A sense that we couldn’t rely on some of the plans we had constructed in our minds for the day. The unexpected ruled the day.
Yet, while disconcerting, this was good. It opened mind and heart to listening to God’s guidance, to God’s spirit moving in our midst, a little bit more.
This experience also opened up some valuable discussion, especially in the evening when we had a group of four other couples/families over for dinner.
I needed to shop for that, but stores had shut down.
Thanks to a young emissary from "the other side of the hill" who was coming to study with my high schooler, I learned the power there had been restored. I also knew that I could go over there to shop. So I did.
And lots of others did, too. Lines proved long, but not impossible.
We decided to use our gas grill for veggie kabobs and sausages. In the end, our display of food included those items plus salad, watermelon and a couple tasty dishes brought by one of the other families. We experienced no lack.
Power Problems Around the World
One of those gathered with us, originally from Lebanon, shared with me that power outages are a planned event there every day now. It's not an unexpected event. The country simply doesn’t have enough power to go around and, rather than deal with the sporadic outages of earlier years, the government decided to plan them into the days.
This is common in many places in our world. You work around it.
A Bit of Magic
As darkness descended, we brightened our place up with all forms of candles. Our preparation resulted from previous blackout experiences years ago, when rainstorms were more common in California.
The glow of the candles introduced an unexpected bit of magic into the air.
We shared stories from four corners of the world – Lebanon, Colombia, Japan and Poland, plus the U.S. My husband pulled out his guitar and we sang and prayed together, too.
It was a sweet time, punctuated only by the occasional small child who needed attention. But even they seemed to revel in the uniqueness of this moment, where all was still, where the unexpected beauty of the moment was something even a small child could treasure in his or her memory.
Power outages are common throughout the world. Share creative ways you’ve discovered to deal with outages.