At 4:50am, I woke to the vibrating sound of a text message.
“Do we have power?”
I pulled on the chain to the bedside lamp.
The next twenty minutes were spent preparing the house, or rather the residents, for a morning without power. Battery powered lanterns in the bathroom. Candles lit in the bedrooms. Blankets on children. A towel tied on the handles of the refrigerator with a sign – “Do not open the fridge – Management.”
No big deal until it hit me – no coffee. I thought about firing up the grill that I had moved to the covered porch and boiling water, but I had thrown away the broken French Press. I don’t know if it was psychosomatic or real physiological withdrawal but my head was now splitting.
With no power and the roads still treacherous in places (it was still snowing), there was no going in the office. I said Morning Prayer by the gas fireplace. I joked on Twitter that I was able to live out my Victorian fantasy, saying Morning Prayer by the light of an iPhone next to a gas fireplace. Just like the Victorians! Despite the pain from lack of caffeine and the disrupted routine, it was so very still in the house. No hums, white noise, blue noise, or electromagnetic whatevers. It was disorientingly beautiful.
With nothing else to do, I went outside and shoveled the driveway. When I was done and realized it was still a very early hour and that I had accomplished a fair bit in the house and outside, it occurred to me that there may be something to this no power thing.
I recently heard on a news broadcast about a study that showed that we are our most creative when our minds are bored. The study suggested that because we now turn to our phones and devices to occupy our downtime, our creativity is stifled. I was on the verge of a creative explosion, I was about to map out the next great theological work, I was going to finger paint a masterpiece, I was about to do all of this when the power came back on mid-morning. I quickly abandoned creativity for coffee.
At lunch I watched the BBC’s coverage of the House of Commons and the Prime Minister’s decision to delay the vote on Brexit. I am not an uncritical Anglophile and I am certain there are major flaws with the Parliamentary process in the UK, but I would love to see our nation adopt it for a day or so, just to see what would happen. I am speaking from a place of naiveté, I don’t know much about British politics or politicians, but I find it refreshing that opposing sides must debate directly across from one another – ten feet from one another. I find it refreshing that everyone has, theoretically, an opportunity to speak. And I appreciate the forced civility – “my right honorable friend.” It’s a form of verbal discipline that makes the casual observer, someone like me, think that there is a real chance these politicians do like each other, but disagree on policy. That may be light years from the truth, but the appearance of such is surely far better that what we are currently dealing with.
It was difficult to get too much administrative work done at home. I arranged some meetings, responded to emails, etc., but most of what I needed was at the office. The major triumph of the day was to wash and iron nearly a dozen amices. I don’t wash them as often as I should because I can’t stand the process. The strings inevitably get tangled in an impossible knot and I do not have the natural patience to undo them. This is why I have such a devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots. Knots, both literal and metaphoric, frustrate me. At our last diocesan convention, Bishop Rodman stated that he enjoys undoing knots. I perked up at the mention of this voodoo. He said that the one thing he had learned over the years is that you have to start where the greatest tension is. Now that is worth some thinking on.
Evening Prayer by the fire. A normal Victorian day.