Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Alone in the company of a chorus of candles.

A smiling crescent in the Western sky looks down on Palo Alto with bemusement.

As in any power outage I wonder--is it just my house? Is it the neighborhood? I was there when the whole East Coast went down in ’65. We had no idea how far the darkness had spread. Tonight is different. This darkness sheds light.

After throwing the main breaker and walking gently into the still house, my first response was--we must do this more often. Why not each Shabbat? What true freedom that would engender. Experience Shabbat as did our ancestors. The quiet. The calm. Much of which must have been common to all their nights. Nights not dominated by power--thousands of superfluous lumens, computer tasks, washing machines, and the most dreadful of all--television.

Ahhhh. So sweet to have this precious time for reflection.

Debbie, off to theater with Karen, undoubtedly knows she is missing a unique evening at home. The sounds of cars rolling down Ross Road tell me many others are missing this as well. I wish they were not.

I sit to embrace this space.
At once the tick tick tick of battery operated clocks announce themselves. Shall I pull the batteries? Are they a violation of this night?
Nah. I will let them be. There’s something profound about storing energy for later use.
I sit.
I chant.
I open my siddur.
I set the ritual objects before me--wine cup, spice container, braided candle.
I utter ancient words of praise--
for sweetness of wine
for aroma of spice
for separation of darkness and light, of the profane and the holy
I bless the week ahead.

Just as the fragrant spices symbolize our prayer for the spirit of Shabbat to permeate our week, I pray that this Earth Hour too lingers on, that its quiet beauty, the awareness it brings, pervades our consciousness in the days and months ahead.

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