The house my husband and I bought in anticipation of retirement, and which we now live in, is entirely electric. This is a first for us. While it's pleasant not to pay an additional utility bill for propane or natural gas, there are drawbacks: Our Oregon coast education has included the realization that, when the power goes out, which is not unusual during bad storms, we also have no running water. The only way water comes out of our faucets when we turn them on is because an electric pump pushes it from the city supply up the hill to our house.
Having found this out the hard way, which was the absence of water during our first power failure in our full-time retirement home, we now keep ample bottled water on hand, as well as big blue jugs of water stowed in the corners of the bathrooms for emergency flushing. When a winter storm threatens, we keep our phones charged and our house warm, just in case. We station flashlights strategically. We are prepared. We've managed pretty well during power failures these past few winters.
Now spring has sprung, and our electricity seems steady as the storms are less intense. The days are longer, the skies less cloudy. The world is reawakening, growing and blooming extravagantly. Christians, the Easter season has begun. Easter is the most meaningful occasion in the liturgical year, the Resurrection of Jesus being the cornerstone of our faith. Easter Sunday is only the start of this season of spiritual light and hope. I celebrated the past two pandemic Easters quietly, virtually, alone except for the grid of faithful faces on Zoom. This year was supposed to be different. I was going to be able to attend the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter in person, to sing Alleluia, to participate bodily in the Eucharist.
I barely made it to Zoom.
I feel paralyzed, devoid of energy, lacking light.
It's like I've had a power failure of faith.
Ever since the Resurrection, throughout the Christian centuries, the phenomenon of the "dark night of the soul" has come over many people of faith. The deep shadows of this spiritual crisis, when God seems profoundly absent, have been experienced and explored by some of our greatest spiritual role models and writers, including St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta. While it may comfort us to know that the doubt that can subdue our souls affects even the saints among us, our faith suffers when we feel disconnected from the power of the divine.
This power does not fail at the source, because God is the source of faith's power. If we believe in God, we know that God's power never fails. The cause of the outage is on my end. Maybe my wiring is faulty. This metaphor may be getting out of control, but I have learned over the years that one way to get my faith-power back is by consulting a spiritual electrician. Sometimes I can't fix myself alone. Sometimes I need an expert to turn the light back on. I think this is why it is important to belong to a faith community. I know that my faith is nurtured and supported and enlightened by the faith of others. Our mutual faith in a loving God, a God who does not ever cut us off or expect payment, a God whose mercy is immeasurable, expresses itself in communal prayer and service.
While my relationship with God seems personal and private, it exists as part of a whole. It is strengthened and nurtured by connection to the whole. To the holy grid. Which is why it is essential that I shake off the dark night of my power failure and get myself to Mass, to the Eucharist, to my parish.
Email contributing columnist Valerie Schultz at email@example.com. The views expressed here are her own.