It is currently 9.02 pm and we are participating in Earth Hour 2009 in our house.
For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about…Earth Hour is a global movement to vote against global warming. At 8.30 pm local time, you are asked to turn your lights off for one hour. Those who have participated and signed up with the website www.earthhour.org will be counted as votes and these will be taken to the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.
Originally I felt compelled to join in based solely on the cause. Saving energy even for one hour all around the world has to be a good thing whether you ‘believe’ in global warming or not (I know it’s a contentious subject for many.)
However the exercise has yielded much more than just saving a few pennies on electricity or making a statement about global warming.
As we prepared, getting the children ready for bed, admonishing them ‘hurry up before the lights go out’, I started to think. An hour without the lights…a nice calm time…candles…relaxing. I began to count down the minutes, looking forward to the moment this utopia would begin.
I was not disappointed.
It seemed that with the lights went all the usual harried feeling we have at that time of the night. Usually, we are dashing around madly getting the kids to bed, and they are usually fighting us tooth and nail with various excuses why they’re not tired or ready for bed. “But Dolly needs to brush her teeth…one more story….we haven’t rearranged the bookshelf for the millionth time…” This is usually followed by a deep sigh on our parts and then we head off to try to get done all those little things that we couldn’t do with little people hot on our heels. You know, things like replying to emails, blogging, lesson planning, (in Chris’s case) grading homework, doing dishes, and even *gasp!* using the ‘little room’ WITH THE DOOR CLOSED! Because of time constraints, we usually end up doing most of these things seperately and then end up with about 10 minutes to talk and connect about our days as our heads hit the pillows (if we’re lucky).
TONIGHT, however, was different… with the candles, came a sense of hush and awe. Everyone seemed calmer and more relaxed. Even after the hour was up, the feeling continued. We talked about things that matter…this is the season of Great Lent in the Orthodox Christian faith. We talked about how we were doing in our individual spiritual journeys, how we want to lead our family…little moments of marvel at the children and their achievements…all things that, no doubt, we had filed away in our minds for ‘when we get a chance to talk’. The chance was NOW.
I believe this was in no small part to do with the candlelight. In our society, we have lost any sense of natural rhythm. In days gone by, the sun would go down, people would wind down too…Nowadays, we have light at the flick of a switch…we don’t give it a second thought. But there is something deliberate about lighting candles…knowing that the dark is imminent and that there is a time limit to procure enough light for the evening.
In the Jewish faith, there is a practice of having a day of rest. It is called Shabbat and it begins on Friday evening at sundown. Electric lights are prohibited as it would be considered a form of work to turn them on. So, candles are used. There is a deep wisdom in this practice. As we just experienced…the dark and candlelight brings a hush and calm that nothing else does. We are forced to interact with each other differently than we are used to.
So, this year, it seems that EARTH HOUR has brought to this house, much more than just a message about green living and taking care of this planet. It has brought us a message about taking care of ourselves and our family.
WE will be turning off our lights for at least an hour EVERY week…
Maybe you’d like to do the same?
Peace to all of you.