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Fr. Simon and Marcus Schonnop

Quiet Interruptions

Assumption farm welcome signWe had our first power outage yesterday, an issue in rural Ontario and a real problem during the winter cold. We lost power just before 6:00 am. My first thought on waking was a little juvenile, “Wonderful, no school today”. Then I remembered, “I am the school and this is going to be a little more complicated than when I was a kid”.

We were all in mid-winter retreat at the beginning of the second semester and the retreat was still going to go on. I just had to find a way to make it happen without power, the internet, and any hard information of just how long the outage was going to last (we received estimates of approximately 10 to 15 hours).

There were also some extra ‘do-with-outs’.  There was no running water for the morning shower, no coffee, and no hot food for breakfast. More importantly, in about 6 hours, there would be no heat other than what could be improvised using a generator and a wood stove.

We dealt with all this while trying to maintain some element of reverence, silence and leadership. Of course, we all assume ordination comes with the charismatic gifts of knowing how to hook up and run a gas-powered generator into a hardwired house system.

Assumption farmThat was the down side, now for the positive side. 

"I love this stuff; creative problem solving is my joy! With an oil lamp to light up the kitchen, cappuccino warming on the wood stove, and bowls packed with snow cooling the food in the fridge, we were good for the first half of the day. The generator, with detailed instructions, was out of the shed and ready for the next step."

There was quiet, true quiet. There was nothing but the immediate reality to focus on and only the next problem to overcome.  One of our seminarians commented that this was how it used to be done for thousands of years.  Candles were used for light, not just show.

There was no background noise to compete with the chanting of the psalms. The sunlight was going to structure the day, not the clock.

Last semester, I wrote about my Poustinia experience. Now, Hydro One had arranged the quiet and simplicity of Poustinia to come into our farmhouse. This all happened on the day the retreat theme spoke of a need for abatement in Gods loving grace and the authentic acceptance of everything, everything as gift. 

I have to say I was a little disappointed when the power returned just before 1:00 pm just as we were preparing to start the generator.

Oh well, at least I got to shovel two feet of snow off the roof. That is not something I get to do every day. Praise God!



Fr. Rob

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