Saturday, I heard the power click off. Well, not the power exactly, the humidifier stopped bubbling and I think it was the silence that actually woke me up. I still don’t know what made the power go off but we checked with PPL and they said it would be off until early afternoon.
What to do? What to do? No hot shower, no coffee, no hot cereal nor eggs and toast. And it wasn’t exactly toasty warm in the house either. But, we knew where Crossroads Church was and they were cooking a pancakes and sausage breakfast, so off we went.
A part of me has been thinking about that morning ever since. We had options. If not the church, then not too far down the road in either way, there were restaurants, and if push came to shove, we do have a few friends that we could have dropped in on, even that early in the day.
I lived without electric power in Africa where we had a kerosene fridge and two burner kerosene stove and a charcoal stove and oven box to put over the stove for baking. We had a generator we used five minutes a day to get the water into the tower from the well so we could have running water in the house, warm water in hot season and cold water during cold season.
You and I had ancestors who had none of these privileges. They lived with cold water from the well, light from oil lamps or candles, and fire wood heat to cook and warm by in the fireplace. It was a different life. We call it camping and enjoy it for a few days or a week or so in the summer. It was ordinary normal life for them, a hardy stock!
Maybe it’s been on my mind, that contrast, because I have been writing the story of life in Ireland before my great-greatgrandparents left during the great famine and life in Bradford County after they arrived here. Oh, many things were the same, the hard life of a farmer, but here they had hope. They could own and work their own farm and not have to fear it would all be taken from them by the English who ruled Ireland at the time. And probably most important, here they never feared the hunger that was part of everyday life in Ireland in the 1840’s.
I think what has bothered me the most these last couple of days is how much we take what we have for granted, as though we are owed it here in the USA. We assume we will have utilities, access to food, clothing, education, freedom to worship. Funny those assumptions, when so much of the world has none of those things. And funnier still, the lack of those things did not and does not prevent the rest of the world from being thankful, from being happy or content with their lot in life.
I know that is true because I saw it in Africa and South America…that contentedness with less. So I leave you this day with the same thought I have been working through. God forgive me for taking so much for granted, and teach me to hang on loosely to what I have. Remind me that real happiness must not and does not ever depend on stuff. Stuff doesn’t hug back. Stuff doesn’t cry nor laugh with me. Stuff doesn’t love.
God made us to live and find joy in family, in community. That’s where we find real power, the kind that wraps its arms around us enabling us to keep going, even when the going gets hard.
Just some thoughts from the desk of Carol Brennan King
photo of kerosene stove from http://stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=237