The Day The Lights Went Out--- And Came On
November 20, 2018
Friday morning we arrived at a school plunged in darkness. Well, not entirely dark, but definitely without electricity. As our eyes gradually adjusted to the lesser levels of light, our minds had to adjust gradually to the idea that many of the useful tools we had come to depend on weren’t working. No computers, no copier, no microwave ovens, no pencil sharpeners, and no (gasp!) coffee machine.
And since no electricity means no school, we hopped back in our cars and buses and went home. The End.
No, that isn’t what happened. Although we did have to go home earlier than usual, and we did have to miss out on some things, we still had most of a school day. For many of us, it was a goodschool day, and not just because it was shorter than usual. With the electric lights off, other lights went on. Some of these were literal lights. There were a few flashlights, and many people had lights on their phones that helped them negotiate the dark recesses of the windowless locker room. In my room there were candles which, while they didn’t add much illumination, did suffuse the atmosphere with the scents of cedar and cypress and warm apple pie. But it was the sunlight through the windows that did most of the literal illuminating. The sunlight that struggled through the overcast sky was brightly reflected by the snow and, passing through the now-unblinded windows, gave us enough light to learn by.
But in some ways the literal lights that day weren’t the most important ones, though obviously they were necessary. Our day without electricity helped to spark some epiphanies, large and small, and lit some candles of understanding. For one, we came to understand that if we had enough light for reading and enough light for seeing each other, we had enough light. We also realized that we could still learn even if it was a little cold. Bundled in coats and blankets and bright yellow scarves, the students drew closer to one another as they drew closer to the light from the window.
The scene through the window sparked another epiphany: The same snow that had downed the power lines also beautified the woods behind the school. The window became a frame for the work of art the Lord had prepared for us. The bare trees and tangled weeds--ordinary, dull, ungainly, even unsightly--had been transformed into something unspeakably beautiful. As we reflected on the beauty of our God in his creation, we reflected, too, on how he takes ugly, unsightly sinners and makes us unspeakably beautiful by his love for us in Christ.
We had no electricity, but we were still able to learn. We had no electricity, but all kinds of lights went on for us. And perhaps the brightest light for us this day was the fresh realization that the powerful light of God’s truth and love can blaze out even in the half shadows of a chilly classroom.