Sunday, February 20, 2011

Discernment by Candlelight: The Luxury of Light

Anyone on the road in southeastern Pennsylvania yesterday knows that driving was a battle of strength, who had more of it, the wind or you? Winding my way through a hilly backroad on my way to visit Sisters Marijane and Patty I not only faced the wind but also what it left behind in its path--a fallen tree that had ripped down power lines in its downward plunge to the ground. The power lines were still active as I rounded the corner, cones and flares lined the street indicating there was no getting around it. I back tracked down the windy road and around the neighborhood to finally arrive at their house, only to find that the particular power line I encountered was causing problems for Marijane and Patty too. No power!

With the exception of the plummeting temperature, there is something very profound about losing electricity. If nothing else it reminds us of how blessed we are to have the luxury of light! We spent the afternoon catching up and sharing stories, the thing about no power, is that during the day you tend to forget that you don't have it. The sun is shining, filtering through the windows, there is really no NEED to have the lights on. But as we sat through the 5 pm, candlelit, Mass with the sun slowly setting behind the hills the lack of electricity became more and more evident.

Hope came with the commencement of communion, as the first few pews of people were receiving the lights came on. That in itself was a pretty amazing image to reflect upon, Jesus-the light of the world-bringing not only metaphorical light but physical light to our lives! We assumed that this meant there was power back at the house, we assumed wrong. And so we ate our pizza by candle and fire light.

No lights, no television to entertain, no radio to listen to, no power. The reality is though, that the only difference between this visit and the many visits I've shared with them before is that the lights were out. When we are together we entertain each other, we truly share our lives with one another, there is no need for outside sources. It was kind of exciting to be sitting there by the fire, wrapped in blankets, and just keeping each other company!

Around 8 pm we were one of the remaining 371 houses without electricity, but PECO insured us they were working as "quickly and safely" as possible to restore it. Finally around 9 pm the power was back, the furnace kicked on, and things went back to normal, with the exception that Patty had to stay up to babysit the roaring fire we had just added a second large log to ten minutes prior to the electricity being restored.

Driving home last night I spent time, with the radio off, thinking about my time with Patty and Marijane. The reality is I don't need electricity to have "light" in my life. Sisters like these two women, and many of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia, bring light into my life everyday. The true "luxury of light" is not the power that heats our homes, it's the fire of love that ignites our souls and the friends who keep it going!

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