Our day had begun with thinking that maybe we could squeeze in one little trip to Niagra Falls before the school year started…. complete with my 12 year old son using an iPad to show us a 3-D streaming of the Falls.
Smart phones and lights and TV’s and laptops and window air conditioners hummed with normalcy, “plans,” positive thoughts, even a few spiritual discussions had commenced….
And it all came to a screeching halt.
Suddenly, there were no fans blowing, no computers or wifi working, no water, and a darkness we were unaccustomed to as all our lights instantly went off. Suddenly it was… quiet. Almost like the Red Sea parting, we stood there at the beginning of crossing it, unfamiliar with what swam within those deep waters, and with a seemingly surprise “enemy” coldly getting what they set out to do.
I began making frantic phone calls… the first was to our local family services department. But I received the voicemail of the lady I was supposed to speak with and advice from the operator to call United Way. I felt confident and ready to take this on.
But instead of calling United Way, I called our beloved pastor. I got his voicemail, too. And for some reason, my normal Italian “you talkin’ to ME?” confidence regarding injustice dissipated into a blithering and embarrassing inability to hold back my tears. I literally cried on his voicemail, raw in my tears, as I sat in my running van with my phone plugged in to the the lighter charger; with the doors closed and locked both so that I could focus, but also to keep my children from seeing me “lose my cool.”
After the voicemail I left for him, I stopped. And I buried my forehead onto the steering wheel (hoping the thing wouldn’t honk) and I cried. I felt a small whisper of despair try to enter…. maybe things WOULD be better if you weren’t here…. but I knew that voice well, as I had battled depression and despair before, and I knew from whence it came, and I knew it was a lie. So I dismissed it as I would a gnat.
And I took a deep breath and made my next call. United Way tried to help, but any agency anywhere on a Friday afternoon was both out of funds and ready for the weekend. I finally called the electrical company because that was the last attempt I had at “fighting”…. but it was 3:32, and they needed my payment by 3:30….
I called back again, because dang it, their hours are until 6:00, and I had worked out a way to frantically raise the donation….. interestingly, I now discovered that the payment had to be there by 12:30, when the electricity guy was still on my property, so it had been impossible anyway, even though I had raised the funds.
I gave the whole story again to another customer service person, and she was sweet and kind, but there was nothing she could do either. I went into full detail about the whole debacle, complete with how I had heard “3:30,” than “12:30,” and whether there was anyone there who knew the truth. She said there should have been a notice, but of course, there wasn’t, and I gave my canned Gladiator speech. In my frustration, asked her what she would do in this situation, and if she was going home to power this evening, and if she had any children. She said she thought it was unfair what and how this was happening, and if it were her, in her personal opinion, she would file a complaint to the main company. I asked her name….. and she told me her name was Eden, “you know,” she said, “like the Garden.”
And then she told me she was expecting her first baby.
It was like something (or someONE) whispered in my ear…. “listen…. God is here… He sees this…”
I suddenly forgot about the fact that we had no power and that we wouldn’t have power for at least three days and that there was injustice… I suddenly was filled with joy for her. She was so giddy and excited to be pregnant…. it had been unplanned, but she had just found out that day and was over the moon, even as she listened to my whole electricity story while she had morning sickness and was struggling to make a living at the same time.
I ended that last call with congratulations and heart-felt well wishes (instead of what I originally wanted to tell anyone at the company), and I felt joy, even in my own darkness; and I felt that God was starting to communicate something…. mainly, “Listen, there’s something here I want to use, to tell you, to teach you…… Listen……”
The evening began to come, light grew dim, and the impending “what do we do NOW” questions started being pondered. We had been defeated in the area of electrical power.
Letting the defeat sink in, I put down my nearly dead phone…. it was getting darker and later, and the children were getting hungry now that they had used up what we had left…. I needed to go get food for everyone, and flashlights, bottled water….. and I bought pizzas, enough to make sure everyone would be full.
But my journey was just beginning……
(….to be continued…)