5 lessons I learned when the lights went out

One winter night an ice storm hit my city. My house had no power for 5 days, some people as long as 2 weeks. We couldn’t cook, wash clothes, or watch TV.
As inconvenient as that was, the thing I missed most was light.

group of lanterns with glowing lights

From Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out-www.watercresswords.com-exploring the heart of health with faith, hope and love

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The day my lights went out

On a cold December morning I awoke to no electric power in my house.No heat, no coffee,no hot breakfast, no television happened that day.

During the previous night rain fell, quickly turning to ice so thick that it brought down exposed power lines. It also took down tree limbs which in turn knocked down more power lines. By dawn, a city of a half million people was largely without power, including my home and clinic.

Upon arising, we started navigating the challenge of life without electricity. We had no heat, could not cook, wash clothes, watch TV, use our computer, or recharge our cell phones.

So, after opening our automatic garage door manually, we drove around looking for an open restaurant , finding traffic signals not working, and many businesses also closed. I didn’t go to my clinic since it didn’t have power either.

Somehow we made it through the day; it was something of an adventure at that point. But at sunset, we faced an evening and night in the dark.

My house had no power for 5 days, some people as long as 2 weeks. By the third day my clinic reopened so I had access to a computer, could charge my phone, and had a warm place to spend the day.

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As inconvenient as all the other things were, the thing I missed most was light.

I felt grateful to have candles and flashlights, but they weren’t the same as being able to flip a switch on the wall or turn the switch on a lamp and have bright light flood the room.

By living in the dark for 5 days I learned

I should not take light for granted.

Natural sunlight lasts from 8 to 14 hours per day, depending on where you live- unless you live at the north or south pole,where you may be in darkness for 24 hours part of the year. Once the sun sets, you are in darkness unless you create light in some way.

Light is a great equalizer.

It didn’t matter who you were or what part of town you lived in. Rich and poor and everyone in between experienced the power outage. Some people had generators or were lucky enough to find a store with one for sale. Otherwise, you were in the dark.

Life without light is difficult.

Sitting in the living room listening to our battery powered TV (now a relic) by candlelight, wrapped up in blankets wasn’t too bad. I just had to remember to take a flashlight to go to the bathroom or into my closet to change clothes. With no power or windows to catch a little moonlight, these areas of my home were pitch black. We couldn’t cook, and could not safely store cold food-I had to throw everything in the refrigerator and freezer away by the third day. We quickly tired of peanut butter and crackers. Dirty clothes stayed dirty for the time being.

a sketch of 5 lit candles in a row
image from Lightstock.com, affiliate link

It takes work to produce light.

Power company crews worked around the clock, helped by  crews from other cities and states. It still took 2 weeks to get power back to everyone. It took even longer to get all the broken tree limbs picked up from  streets and yards and hauled off to a central site for burning. Subsequently the city undertook a plan to trim trees that posed a hazard to power lines  and to bury power lines.

Light should be shared with others.

Residents and businesses who had power invited others in , providing places to eat, wash clothes, charge phones, and stay warm. We were all in this together, and everyone seemed to make an extra effort to be kind to each other.

New York City at night
We enjoyed a view of the lights of New York City from the Empire State Building

Another post about Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount  

exploring the HEART of light

Dr. Aletha

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

8 thoughts on “5 lessons I learned when the lights went out”

  1. We lived through an ice storm that brought our area to a halt many years ago. It was beautiful to look at that first morning, but devastating to the area. We were one of the fortunate ones who did not lose power for long because we were on the grid with the one hospital in the area, but many of our friends were without it for weeks.


    1. Yes, Donna, it was that way here too. Pretty , yet in some places, you could hardly tell ice had fallen except for the many fallen trees. And we also had some unfortunate folks without power much longer than others. We dread ice storms more than snow; at least with snow life goes on as normal, although we may be stuck inside for a day or two if our streets don’t get plowed (only the highways do). Thanks for visiting ,you have an interesting blog, I will enjoy exploring it soon.


  2. Thanks for reminding us Dee. My electric company sends me a text anytime our power is out, with an estimate of when it will resume. But often, it’s back on before I even get the text telling me it’s off. When we volunteered in Zanzibar , the power went out for several hours every afternoon; their system just cannot sustain service 24 hours a day. People there learn to adapt and life carries on. Every fall when we change back to standard time from daylight saving, I feel like we get a small taste of life with limited power, the evenings seem so much longer after dark.


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