Boom! Pop! The house shook and the lights went out.
“What’s going on…?” a teenager called in disbelief.
The house was plunged into darkness. No more Christmas lights twinkling at the window, or a brightly lit tree. No more Christmas movie on television or Bing Crosby crooning over the speakers. Computers waned on battery power and cell phones–already at low battery near day’s end–were turned off to conserve remaining power. With no furnace running, the cold of a windy, icy Minnesota night began whistling through cracks and doors and the temperature in the house quickly dropped.
I was immediately struck by two things: One, with how dependent we are on electricity—to function, stay warm, and be entertained. And two, with the significance of going without illumination on the day we celebrate the coming of the light into the world.
Joseph and Mary had no electric light or battery-operated flashlight, or matches to light sweet-smelling candles. No furnace or probably not even a fire to keep them warm. As a parent, tripping in the dark trying to find candles and wool blankets, it made me consider with renewed appreciation Mary and Joseph’s quest to find somewhere warm and safe for their child to be born.
After the shock wore off, it was something of a relief for the blaring television and the onslaught of video games to cease for a little while. To laugh and tease each other in the dark, and argue over who would get to have the furry warm cat sleep in his bed. To go to bed early and snuggle under thick blankets and be thankful for a house that kept the worst of the cold at bay.
Sometime in the night, the power company truck arrived and then another, and soon lights were coming on, clock radios flashing, alarms beeping, and computers booting up. But for a few hours on a cold Christmas, we experienced the clarity and peace of a winter’s night. A silent night. A holy night.
I am afraid any significance was lost on my teenage sons and techy husband. But I was left with a renewed thankfulness–for the blessing of a (usually) warm home, and for the light of the world.
When was the last time you went without power? Was it a memorable experience?