You find out who your friends are in a storm. Even before I reached home, Wes texted me to say our neighbor was helping remove and cut up a giant branch that fell on the driveway. Yes, no power so: hand saws. At least it happened in the afternoon when it was still light so there was time to run around and fetch the flashlights and dig out the candlesticks.
Nightfall came quickly. It’s hard to be in the dark—which is how many of us feel right now. So much change. So much uncertainty. Not just in the world but in our country, our state, our cities, our churches, our families—ourselves.
That night I watched my husband walk through the living room with a candle in each hand. He walked slower than I have every seen him move. He was walking at Candle Speed. This is the speed at which we walk so as not to extinguish a candle’s flame. Of course we can shield the flame with our hands and walk faster. But we can’t see any farther because we are blocking the light. The best is to hold the candle high and walk at Candle Speed.
It strikes me that this is a very healthy speed at which to walk through life right now. So many questions. Work remotely or go back to the office? Online school or in-person school? Stay or go? We feel like we don’t really know what to do next.
The thing about Candle Speed is that you can’t make a decision about anything very far ahead because you can’t see that far. That dark blob across the room that you think is a chair? Don’t run to sit on it! It may be the dog. We can’t rush because we can see only the next step. Candle Speed is usually the speed at which people change. Sometimes people change in an instant, but not often. Usually we change as things are illuminated for us.
But sometimes walking at Candle Speed may infuriate those who seem to be able to see in the dark. “Hurry up! Get here,” they say. We are trying but we can’t see our way yet. Sometimes we want so badly to be there that we are paralyzed and can’t move forward at all. Other times we rush forward to be there and then trip and fall. Sometimes we get up again. And sometimes we don’t.
Eighteen hours later our power came back on. By that time it was daylight, but even so, I found myself still moving at Candle Speed. I think I like it that way for now.