Is there a way to live with the knowledge of our basic instability without turning into an anxiety-ridden 'fraidy cat? I think so. For me, staying awake to the fragility of life makes me appreciate it more on the one hand and leads me to explore the reality of an eternal soul on the other hand. That's why I have spent my life studying the texts of many faiths and doing a variety of spiritual practice: meditation, prayer and contemplation. As Einstein said, "I want to know the thoughts of God; the rest are just details."
Back to the power outage in my hometown. I'm on Day 3 of the neighborhood blackout: I am writing this in front of my fireplace, in the early spring evening, by the light of my computer. The little blinking icon at the top of my screen indicates that I have 16 percent of my battery power left. I better wrap this article up. It's only 9 p.m., but we've gotten into bed early the past two nights and read by the light of a candle. Not only because it's sort of romantic, but also because there's nothing else to do! No email, no television, no radio. And early to bed means more hours of sleep—something we need. Without the symphony of electrical appliances, the furnace and the white noise machine we use to drown out the other sounds, the house is quieter; the whole world seems more still.
Last night before heading to bed, I slipped outside to pee under the stars. Squatting on the wet ground, gazing up at the star-studded sky, a strange feeling came over me. Something switched in my consciousness—the way it sometimes does when I meditate or pray. Instead of feeling small and scared, I felt free. I let my soul drift peacefully in the vast universe, my sails filled with the breeze of eternity. It was if I was looking down on our precious earth. Once again, I realized that our sun is a mass of combustible gases; that our planet is a temporary miracle held together by gravity and grace; and that while we are not promised physical security, we can still perceive the eternity of the soul and relax into its mystery. I felt at peace with the way things are, and at the same time, I wanted to do what I could to protect this beautiful earth and its miraculous creatures.
I sort of hope the power stays out for a few more days.
As the co-founder of Omega Institute, America's largest adult education center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality and creativity, Elizabeth Lesser has studied and worked with leading figures in the fields of healing and spiritual development for decades. A former midwife and mother of three grown sons, she is also the author of Broken Open and A Seeker's Guide.
More from Elizabeth Lesser:
We are not alone
How to begin your spiritual journey
10 traps of spiritual materialism