It took one falling tree to send me 150 years back in time! As I write this I am surrounded by candles and curled up next to the fireplace. As much as a month ago I can recall saying that the rectory fireplace was meant to be decorative, not practical. How wrong could I be! Right now if it weren’t for the fireplace, the gas stove, the grill and some candles my life would be very dark indeed. We have such great technology in the 21st century, but we often forget how much of it relies upon the thin little wire hanging outside your house. Take away the electricity and we might as well all be Victorians. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
It is frustrating living without electricity simply because we aren’t used to it. We have learned to rely upon the tools in our life to keep us informed, to keep us warm, and to keep us entertained, and when those tools fail what are we left with? We are left with the stark realization that for most of human history, our own life has been dependent upon other living things.
We depend upon fire, which is a living thing that must be kindled, controlled and fed. We depend upon animals, which don’t come frozen or wrapped in cellophane. We depend upon vegetables, which must be picked and prepared. Most importantly, we depend upon other people, which can’t be turned on or off like the television.
The good thing about natural disasters, is that they remind us of how much we still need each other. Technology is great, and I’m all for using it, but if we center our lives around it and if it becomes the primary object of our affection and attention, then we are in for a brutal shock when it ceases to function. No microwave or florescent light will ever be able to fully replace an actual living flame and no television set or radio will ever be able to replace an actual living person. We need to periodically refocus ourselves on the things that God has given us, and not on the things that we have created.
This month we are dedicating a new votive candle stand to be used by parishioners in their private prayer devotions. There has been a move by some churches to begin using electric votive stands. You pay a dollar, push a button and on comes a little light for an allotted amount of time. They are neat and tidy, but they are also completely artificial. When you think about it, do you really want there to be anything artificial about our worship of God? Of course not. Our votive stand is meant for real people to say real prayers and light real candles to a real God. It might be a little more work, but on the plus side you can still say your prayers when the lights go out. Hopefully it will remind us that the most important light we have comes from God, and not from the electric company.
In all fairness, I will be quite glad when the lights come back on at the rectory. I will be thankful for life to begin to return to normal again. But I am far more thankful to have people in my life that are always there for me, even when the lights go out.
Blessings, Fr. Kevin