This morning I woke up long before the sun was rising. That’s not unusual since I don’t sleep well. I lay in bed thinking about the day to come, then decide to get up. I walk into the bathroom, close the door and flip the light switch. NOTHING HAPPENED. My first thought was that, “while we were working on yesterday’s project we must have flipped that breaker”. Then I realized there were NO lights anywhere. The programmed lights outside weren’t on. The little light on the electric toothbrush wasn’t flashing. Hmmmm….no instant gratification light going on here this morning.
I was in the dark.
My typical routine is get up, brush my teeth, walk into the kitchen and “put the tea-pot on” (pretty sure that the grammar police would have me on that one) then, after I’ve poured my tea and depending on the day, get ready to see a client, start writing, throw a load of laundry in the washer or read something good for my soul.
It was only 42° outside and, since the power had been off for a while, it was a bit chilly in the house. I went to my desk, found my phone and turned its flashlight on (glad I had charged it the night before). There really wasn’t anywhere to go, so I sat down (with a blanket on my lap) on the loveseat in the library and started writing this post longhand, in my notebook, by the light of my phone. It was around 5:00 by then, still at least an hour until sunrise. I became aware that I’d need to leave for my first client appointment by 8:15, and that chances were pretty good that there was not going to be a hot shower this morning. Then I thought about my trip to Honduras seven years ago. In LaEntrada we were fortunate to have ANY water for a shower and hot water was a real bonus! I remember coming home from that mission trip changed and aware of my ignorance – believing we should be able to just flip a switch or turn on a faucet and expect something to happen.
As I was sitting there, it actually seemed to get colder and I wrapped the blanket more tightly around me. Then, I thought about all those who are cold every single day.
The cold turned to calm and as my thoughts turned to words and glided across the paper, I realized there was a giant shadow of my hand and pen on the ceiling. That made me think of all the shadow puppet games I played with my daughters, now grown women. Then I thought about the decades that have flown by and how much I have in my life.
We walk through life flipping switches all the time without ever thinking about what we’re doing. Every day we do SO MANY things without even considering them. They’re simply part of the way we move through time. We “flip on and off” experiences, conversations and interactions like we do with a light switch. We’re on “autopilot” so much that we don’t even realize how much we take for granted; what we’re missing.
My pen ran out of ink, so I had to get up from my comfortable spot and fumble around to find another one. I thought about the hot cup of tea that I wasn’t drinking and then I thought about all those who are starving to death every single day.
I turned the flashlight off. There were no little blue or red lights flashing on my desk; no signs of the electronics that we hand over so much of our time to. I paid attention to the howl of the wind outside the windows and the drops of rain pinging off the glass. I could hear it so clearly in the absolute silence of all else. There were no humming noises from computers or appliances or heaters or lights. There was only, and simply, the dark and the sounds of nature. In the dark everything became more clear and I thought about some of the people who have been in my life for a long time.
Nancy and I have known each other for over fifty years. She is one of the most important people in my world. We met in first grade and have been in each other’s lives ever since then. Our journeys didn’t always follow parallel paths so there were years when we didn’t see each other often. Our lives took different roads with different experiences, but we were always connected. Yesterday was Nancy’s fifty-eight birthday. After a morning “happy birthday” I texted her in the evening to say “hope you’re having a wonderful day”. She wrote back to me and said, “It was the best day one could ever have”. Wow. Nancy is the most “glass half-full” person I’ve ever known. She has experienced her share of loss including the death of her parents, and her husband, but has never given in to pity or anger. She has, of course, faced challenging times but has never given up in believing in amazing possibilities. She is open to new experiences and she loves life. She doesn’t take for granted the switches she gets to flip in her life and, because of that, she brings joy to those who are blessed to walk with her.
I stopped writing to get another blanket. I reached for the light switch again….an automatic behavior without even a thought. We walk into a room and simply flip a switch. We forget to appreciate anything because we expect everything. We assume there’s going to be heat and hot water and lights that jump to attention. We expect to open a refrigerator and find food that’s cold and fresh. We open a closet and have a tough time deciding what to wear because we have so much. We flip on a phone or computer and have instant access and connection. We get caught up in our first world problems.
As the sun came up I watched the raindrops dance on the slate walkways outside the window where I sat with a blanket and a cell phone flashlight and a notebook and a pen, and I wrote.
Then, I thought about God and my grandchildren and my daughters. I thought about my husband and my friends. I thought about grace and hope and joy mixed with pain and sorrow and despair. I thought about love and loss. I thought about how small we are and how great we are.
My prayer for you, this week, is that you can BE still enough to really hear the wind and to see the dance of the raindrops.
Happy Birthday Nancy,
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”:
#5. Vote- in every election; this is a right SO many have fought for. One of the many things we take for granted is our right to vote. Until 1870, in most states, you had to be a white, male, property owner to participate in the election process. Most women did not have the right to vote until 1920. Let your voice be heard!