by Matthew Hennessey
For me and my family, Hurricane Sandy brought some hardships. A week without power meant a refrigerator full of spoiled food. It meant some extra bucks spent on batteries and camping lanterns and a few frigid nights spent under piles of blankets.
For some reason, I found boiling water to do the dishes particularly irksome. On Sunday, day six of the ordeal, the family voted to go out for pizza. I voted for it in part because I just couldn’t face scrubbing pots and pans in the dark. At the restaurant, Patrick, my four-year-old, broke the tension by declaring with heavy eyelids, “I wish I was in bed.”
But the storm, and the long days waiting for the lights to come on, also brought some unexpected joys. A week without power meant Daddy stayed home from work. It meant that we could eat together as a family in the evenings. TV wasn’t an option. Instead, we read books together, organized backyard games and introduced ourselves to neighbors we hadn’t met yet. These were unexpected blessings, and I am truly thankful for them.
Perhaps the greatest challenge was in keeping spirits up. I got up once or twice on the wrong side of the bed. The urge to call and complain about the lack of progress on our street’s damaged utility poles was ever-present. Luckily my wife was there with gentle reminders to straighten myself out. We may not have had hot water, but that was no excuse to lose our minds.
My wife is not an unexpected blessing, but I often don’t deserve her patience.
The week’s privation put me in a reflective mood. I found myself possessed of unexpected gratitude and not just for the missing modern conveniences that make normal life relatively easy to endure.
Take away my iPod and my cordless phone. Take away my hot shower and the microwave that warms my coffee. What am I left with? Take away my daily concerns about my appearance. Strip away my fear of failure, my privacy, my sense of humor and my occasional good cheer. Take all of this stuff, and what have I got? What have any of us got?
Faith. That’s it. Faith that we are loved. Faith that we are protected. Faith that we are saved, ultimately, from our earthly failures and our sins. Faith that when we have lost everything, we still have Him.
Think of how we come into this world – confused and in darkness. Often that’s how we leave it, too. In between, we spend far too much of our brief time here worrying about trifles. Like the way I nearly spent my week, stewing over such counterproductive questions as: Why is it taking so long for them to get to my street?
I won’t be glad to go through this again. I doubt anyone would be. But we must always remember that our true fate is not in the hands of Con Edison. Our souls are in the hands of a merciful and loving protector.[hr] Matthew Hennessey’s “A Dad’s View” column is published by Fairfield County Catholic, the monthly newspaper of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn. He is the son-in-law of the late Bill Reel, who was a weekly columnist for The Tablet.