Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Living In The Dark

There were still 200,000 people without power in the Louisville area on Tuesday morning and I was one of them. I can still think of three reasons to be happy.

We have a full moon that provides some light in the darkness.

The weather is cool and air conditioning is not missed.

I still have hot water so I can take showers.

It may be a another long night spent in semi darkness. Although I am very inconvenienced by the lack of electrical power, I am also very grateful that no one I know was hurt by the storm and my home was not damaged. I know some of you probably have sustained some damage. I hope it was not too traumatic. I think it is good to be inconvenienced from time to time. It certainly gets life down to basics as well as give one a whole new appreciation for such things as light, refrigeration, electric ranges, television, the Internet, and a myriad of other things that most of us take for granted. It also gives me some solidarity with the millions who live on the Gulf Coast and who's inconvenience is much greater than mine. My power may be out but my house is still standing and my employer is still operating. I actually enjoyed some of yesterday's experience. I spent much of Sunday afternoon sitting on my front porch taking in the awesome power of nature as the winds blew through my neighborhood. I enjoyed the cool air that came with the wind and as evening came I sat in my chair and enjoyed the silence and sounds of the night. Last night was the first night in quite a while that I have slept with the windows open. I wrote up periodically through out the night and the silence was deep and the darkness was great. I was actually kind of happy as I breathed in the cool night air and realized I was sleeping in my own bed. If this goes on all week it may seem less wonderful but still, I cannot complain too much. Fortunately, the weather has cooled substantially so the lack of air conditioning is not a hardship. So many people in so many places in the world suffer through much more than me. How can I complain?

Out of curiosity I once looked up contemplation in the dictionary. Three of the definitions were 1) The act or state of contemplation, 2) Thoughtful observation of study, 3) Meditation on spiritual matters. I think contemplation can be learned but some personality types seem to be naturally contemplative. In all the major religions there are contemplative traditions but I also think you can be a contemplative person without necessarily being a person who practices a particular religion. In my mind a contemplative person is one who takes the time to stand back or step away from the fast pace of life and simply breathe. The contemplative is someone who likes life in the slow lane. A contemplative gets caught up in the "flow" of life. It's about being awake enough and present enough to not only notice the flowers but also be willing to stop and smell them. It's being present to life in all it's details, also know as mindfulness. Perhaps you are aware of the story of the prophet Elijah from the Book of Kings in the Hebrew scriptures. He had challenged the prophets of the false god Baal to a duel. To make a long story short, Elijah won so they ran him out of town. He hid in a cave on a mountain. There was thunder and lightening and earthquakes and all that kind of stuff but God was not present in them. Finally, there was a small whispering sound like a gentle breeze. Elijah hid his face for in this God was present. The contemplative person is one who has achieved an interior quiet that allows him to notice the small whispering sounds in life where God is often present. If you are constantly running through life with your hair on fire, busy all the time, stressed out, and meeting yourself coming and going, you will miss such opportunities.

No comments: