Easter this year involved a visit to my parents, who, living in a rural area several hours north of us, continue to experience the power outage issues that I’ve mentioned before when inclement weather arrives. And, as you might have imagined with the severe weather bands pushing their way across the U.S. lately, it arrived. The power subsequently left. There was some talk about how annoying severe weather in Spring can be, and how it has turned dangerous, especially of late…several friends and at least one family member have experienced near misses from the tornado activity in the American Southeast over the last two weeks. I commented that Spring is about re-birth, and birth is a violent event, so its fitting that the weather should be…well, passionate. Given what Easter celebrates, the tumultuous weather involved in this re-birth just seems appropriate.
A few years ago, when I walked through Passion Week in daily reflections, I came to the conclusion that Saturday was a very quiet day. Ironically, or perhaps providentially, our Saturday with the family became quiet, as well, right around 8:30 that night. That’s when one lightning flash too many plunged their street into a blackout, and we spent the remainder of the evening in candlelight and the occasional flashlight beam.
We also had the most amazing laughter. Laughter like I haven’t had with Karen since we were dating, to be honest…the entire family was rolling with one hilarity after another, and the conversation was the best of the weekend. There was no television, limited Internet (Karen wasn’t giving up the iPad for me to check Twitter), and leaving the room for this or that was significantly more complicated that usual. Even reading a book was difficult in the wavering candlelight, and there was no choice but to engage fully with each other for the remainder of our waking moments of the evening.
All because the superfluous stimuli had been removed.
Karen and I don’t do cable. The advantage to watching everything via Hulu or Netflix is that we watch intentionally: when we want to see something, its on, and when we don’t, there is no white noise. As my parents still do cable, I noticed that that it was difficult to have substantive conversation with the television on, because it was staying on in the background the entire evening of our arrival. A few weeks ago, I experienced a more exaggerated version of the same problem when Karen and I were at a sports bar with some friends. There were no less than twelve television screens surrounding our dining area, loud music notwithstanding. I was facing my friend from only across the table, but had significant difficulty understanding him because I kept being distracted by the hockey game appearing twelve feet tall on the projection screen across the room. And I don’t even watch hockey.
Even without the television, Saturday morning was spent with my father and I in the same room, him reading the paper and me catching up on news feeds and blogs over coffee. We didn’t really engage with each other for the better part of an hour after saying “good morning” (okay, that might be somewhat due to my not being a morning person).
Sometimes I think of the illegal off-switches in the world of Max Headroom, and think we might not be far off. I know that I had the opportunity to experience the quiet of the Saturday before Easter, celebrating a most precious holiday with our family, engaging with them at a completely different depth because the noise had been quieted for us, in a way that forced us to accept that quiet for several hours. I am thankful for that, because it made the celebration of Easter morning so much sweeter…as though the quiet had forced anticipation of the sunrise.
Imagine how blissful more quiet could be.
I hope you had a blessed Easter.
Photo Attribution: rsvstks