Last night, while spending time at home with my family, we experienced a neighborhood-wide power outage. This is something that has only happened roughly three times in the 17 years my wife and I have lived in our current home. Even during the famous Central Virginia derecho a few years ago, we didn't lose power for even a minute. As you can imagine, then, this "lights out" scenario was quite a shock for us. My three-year-old daughter was so caught off guard and frightened that she started to cry. Fortunately, one of her older brothers and I were able to quickly calm her down...disaster averted.
Since it was already dark, we fumbled around until we were able to retrieve our stash of flashlights, at which point we had illumination again, at least in part. Then the questions began! Daddy, why did the power go out? Daddy, when will the lights come back on? Daddy, why is Jack's flashlight brighter than mine? Daddy . . . Daddy . . . Daddy? But then something quite unexpected happened. To a child, the kids became excited--indeed elated--running around the house with their flashlights in hand, hiding from each other, laughing, and trying to scare one another around every dark corner. Screams followed by laughter followed by running followed by silence followed by more screams became the order of the evening.
As I watched this scene unfold, it made me reflect on how simple true joy can be. In our technological age of prosperity and plenty, we often think joy comes from the latest app on our mobile phones, some new TV series on Netflix, a flashy battery-operated toy, or Amazon's most current novelty. But so often, when we step away from our modern conveniences, we find that the simple things in life can bring us just as much, if not more joy than anything money can buy. My kids often prefer an old cardboard box or a muddy stick to the plastic--often expensive--gadgets that litter our basement. And who hasn't experienced the peace of an outdoor hike, a good book, or just running with the kids and the dog in the backyard? So many times, simple is better!
So, I say, "More lights out, please!" Yes, there were some inconveniences last night. It got a little cold with no heat, we fumbled every time we had to get a drink of water, and I had to wait until this morning to write this blog post; however, it sure was nice to snuggle up in a blanket next to my wife. And, oh how nice it was to see that genuine joy on the faces of my children. Yes, the lights may have been out in our house last night, but they were shining bright in our souls.