The Week 3 guide for the Online Retreat in Everyday Life is here. I wrote this reflection a week and a half ago, so please note that I **do** currently have electricity. 🙂

This week is about perspective. The guide calls it “a picture of harmony.” That makes me chuckle, because as I sit here writing this, I’ve been without electricity for four days, and there may be twelve more ahead of me, by some reports. The perspective I’ve gotten this week has been unexpected, unasked for, and not so harmonious as I’d like!

Before the power went out, I asked myself what God’s creative desire was for me, just like the guide suggested. I thought about how beautiful my world is, about how blessed I am – and always have been. I was all set with the background of the week – being more conscious of WHY I was created and noticing the rest of creation more consciously.

Then the lights went out.

But it wasn’t JUST the lights. It was the fridge and the freezer, the washer and the dryer, the coffee-maker and the TV. The things that were part of the background – the well-pump, the clean clothes, the swept-up mess – moved to the forefront. I started noticing how much I appreciate my morning shower. I started going to bed earlier or reading by lamplight. I started taking stock of how blessed we are by friends and family who share their hospitality without hesitation.

Though we have a small generator, every electrical choice has had to be deliberate. Every hour of TV has a price in fuel consumption, every hot mug of coffee takes a pull on generator usage, every charged laptop has a sound quotient running in the background (the humming growl of the generator).

This week, thinking I would be pleasantly surprised by the power coming on early, I planned on being powerless. We unloaded our refrigerator contents with a family member and then took the freezer there too (actually picked it up and took it!). It just was not worth the price of gasoline to keep the generator running through the day.

I haven’t been the best at putting up with all of this inconvenience. That’s where this week’s reflections helped me.

From the guide: “This is about gratitude. We want to appreciate, to become more sensitized to and more aware of something about God: God has an intense desire to help us achieve the end for which we were lovingly created by God. So, by our thinking and watching this week we are coming to know God better.”

I was created to praise God, to revere God (growing in awe and love), and to serve God…which all sounds fine and dandy until I have a week that tests me to my limit, that puts every whining, complaining, ungrateful thought in my head on-deck.

In the midst of my (perceived) hardships, I step back.

“Where is God?!” I scream to the field beyond.

I am surrounded by silence, a silence that is also dark and full. It is full of the changing of leaves, the smell of fall coming, the chill of the evening air. All around me is God’s creation.

As I shake my fist and insert dramatic sighs into every moment of my day, I can see that silence that is not quite stillness in my mind’s eye.

When I’m frustrated and not feeling so adventurous anymore, tempted to scream and give up and scream some more, there’s that silence outside.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in things that don’t matter, things that take me away from the silence I find outside in front of that field out back.

Many times, in the story of my life, I have weathered turbulent times. I have felt the thunder shaking me and I have had to remain strong. I have been swept away and washed ashore with the wreckage.

The perspective of stepping back and looking at the whole picture brings me to the silence of a fall evening – one without electricity and all the distractions it represents. Perspective comes in the hands of a small girl bringing me a discovered treasure. Perspective comes in the hand on the small of my back.

I’ve had a hard time being thankful for a long-term power outage. My husband remarked to me, as we were packing up to go bathe and eat one evening at someone’s house, “This is the closest I want to come to camping.”

It’s not convenient.

It’s not easy.

It’s not really all that fun.

But it IS an opportunity to step back and consider how blessed I am, how full of gratitude I should be: for family close by to help, for friends who offer and then follow through, for prayers, for electricity.

This week has been a schoolroom for gratitude, for appreciating all I have – and don’t have.

When I thought of perspective when this week started, I sure wasn’t thinking of THIS! 🙂

God has a desire for my life…for MY life, ME personally. He created Sarah specifically, and though I’ve made my share of mistakes, he still has a plan and a DESIRE for MY life. Though that boggles my mind, it also makes me smile. It makes me think about how loved – how truly and really loved – I must be. It points me to the wonder around me, to the shower of graces, to the abundant blessings – and it puts everything into perspective.

GOD’S perspective.

The one I should be thinking about anyway!