Saturday, September 20, 2008

Living in the Now

When Hurricane Ike's winds began to rip through the city of Louisville last Sunday, I didn't worry too much about it. I was working at school, focused on writing a test for my geometry students and grading notebooks from students in my Algebra I classes. I was also checking my e-mail, looking up some videos for my homeroom class and thinking of all of the things that I still needed to do when I got home.

Just as I entered the last notebook grade into my on-line gradebook, the power flickered once, then failed completely. Left alone in the dark in the midst of a most impressive windstorm, I grabbed a few things I thought I could work on at home and headed out of the school.

It wasn't until I made it halfway home and discovered that all of the main routes to our convent were blocked, that I began to think of something other than my list of tasks to be accomplished. With tree limbs and garbage swirling around me at an alarming rate, I began to realize that this storm was more serious than any I'd experienced. By the time I arrived home, about two hours after I had left school, the storm had ended and the city was quiet in more ways than one. Electricity had been cut to nearly 300,000 residents leaving most of the city in the dark. The usual hum of our refrigerator, computers and air conditioner had been silenced. The other sisters who live on my mission were gathered in our darkened living room, discussing what had just occurred and what needed to be done until the power came back on.

It's amazing how quickly priorities change. When I left the house, I was consumed entirely with the week ahead: what needed to be done at school, the friend I was trying to meet, the chores I had left unfinished in the house. Upon my return, we had more immediate, pressing needs: how to prepare supper, where are the extra candles and flashlights, where can we get ice so that we can save our food if this continues. I was no longer thinking about tomorrow, but about what is going on around me, right now.

This storm was kind of a wake-up call for me. So often I let myself become consumed with things that are about to happen, that I forget about what is going on around me. Over the last week (yes, five days later the power has still not been restored), I have had lots of time to sit and reflect upon the present moment. I could not plan for tomorrow, as I did not know what tomorrow would bring. Will there be school? Will I be able to use the computer to finish my test? Will we able to make our supper in the kitchen? I was forced to take each day at a time, each task at a time, and take nothing in the future for granted. After the initial shock wore off, I found the time to be a gift. I could be more present to my housemates as I was not so worried about where I have to be next. I could enjoy the peace and quiet that comes when all the appliances are stilled because I was not trying to live in the future. I could even relax into my prayer time as I was in no hurry to move on to anything else. These are all things that I think I need to learn to do in ordinary life. Amazing how God can speak in so many ways!

Though I will be extremely grateful when electricity returns and schools reopen, I will be a little sad to lose this time that I believe has been a true gift from God.


  1. Dear Sister Kathleen,
    Wow! Do you have power yet? It is amazing how much we take for granted the simple things like electricity and refridgeration. I hope you have everything back and working. I look forward to this blogging! God bless.
    In His Unconditional Love,
    Alex Larsen(in North Carolina

  2. Hey Alex! Good to hear from you! Yes, we got power back late Saturday afternoon. It's nice to be able to see where you're going, but I kind of miss the mysteriousness of candle light.
    Sr. Kathleen

  3. Sister Kathleen,
    Hi! Thanks for your reply! I read another Sisters blog about her experience with out power during the storm, they played cards by candlelight, and made s'mores and sang songs. I agree there is something special to be said about times like those. You are right, there is a mysteriousness about candle light. I hope you have a blessed week. Take care.
    In Christ,