Angel at Our Door

It’s Christmas and our power is out.

Like so many others, our area was hit by a powerful storm that featured everything from unseasonably warm temperatures and rain to a rapid chill with fierce winds. That’s a recipe for a power outage.

But we’re among the lucky ones.  We have a generator that supplies enough power to keep us warm and well-lit.

Until it didn’t.

After running continuously for more than 24 hours, it quit.

“This is dire,” my husband said on his way out to check the level of propane in the tank to which the generator is connected – which turned out to be more than adequate.  Next, he tried manually turning off the generator and starting again, to no avail.

There was nothing left to do but solicit advice from others in our neighborhood who also happen to have the same model generator, installed by the same dealer.

When lo, there appeared unto us an angel, in the form of our neighbor, bearing glad tidings of great joy – he had a good idea about how to get our generator running again.  It involved the quart of oil (5W-30, Synthetic) that he had in hand.

Turns out he had a similar experience with his generator, but at 4:30 in the morning.  Having learned the hard way how to coax it back to life, he set out later that morning to check on others who might be in a similar predicament.

Happily, his solution worked.  Once again, there was power.

What an odd holiday this is turning out to be.  Just at the time we’re looking to celebrate hope, peace, joy, and love, instead so many people are focused on survival and coping with the aftermath of this massive storm.  In some areas the effect is truly devastating and dire (unlike our generator hiccup).

But it’s not just the storm that makes things difficult this time of year.  For some of us this is the first holiday season after losing someone we love dearly.  Or we know this might be the last holiday with a beloved person.  There may have been other losses during the past year – relationships, employment, a home, and the list goes on.

It’s doubly difficult to be grieving when the constant message is “be happy.”

Strangely, I think that it’s when we’re experiencing particularly tough times that we most clearly recognize the angels when they show up – no matter if they’re the ones bearing quarts of oil or a plate of cookies.  It may be that our angels stopped to help change a flat tire by the side of the road or called to check in to see if we’re OK.

A little bit of kindness heals and soothes the soul.  And it’s one of the simplest, yet most profound things we can all offer to each other.

A few hours after the generator incident I went out for a walk. Rather than listen to an audio book, as I often do, I decided to listen to the natural sounds around me.  Giggling to myself I thought, perhaps I’d even hear an angel chorus.

But no.

Instead, what I heard was the occasional gust of wind through the treetops, the click and moan of branches bending together, the rush of the water in the brook, and a dog in the distance.

And undergirding it all was the dissonant cacophony of generator motors.  Not exactly an angel chorus but reassuring under the circumstances.  That sound was a reminder that somehow, together, we’re going to get through the rough patches.