Monday, January 10, 2011

Festival Of A Light

Cold War Kids--"Long As I Can See The Light" (mp3)

Yes, the holidays are over, but there is a celebration here that continues day after day.

Eighteen years ago, way back near the end of 1992, we moved into this house. My older daughter, about to graduate college, was three years old; my younger daughter was about to be born. My wife had finished law school the previous spring, and was in her first year of practice. My friends John, Hank, and Billy were unmarried. My friend Steve did not live across the street. Bill Clinton had just been elected for the first time. There had only been one war in Iraq. The Steelers still only had 4 Super Bowls. My mother was alive and well, with no hint of the cancer that would take her eight years later.

I could go on and on about how different the world was back then, but you get the idea. Inside the house, the same litany of changes since then.

But through it all, there is one thing that hasn't changed. Down in the basement, in a very small, tight bathroom that has all the trappings of having been homemade, there is a flourescent light that burns to this day, every time we turn it on.

We did not install the light. It was in place when we moved in, so I have no idea when it started its life of light. The fixture is actually a two-light fixture, but the lower light has long since worn out.

But this one light continues. And it has not been spared heavy use. For years, I have showered in that bathroom every morning; my wife usually does, too. We do not shower in the dark. I often use that room as my escape from the rest of the house, a place to sit and read. The larger room that the bathroom supports has served at different times as our den, my niece's hangout room when she lived with us, my older daughter's bedroom, a guest room, my younger daughter's room (briefly), the locale for untold sleepovers, Super Bowl parties, Tennessee football parties, including the second half of the championship game, plus clothes-folding marathons and music fests of various sources. I can't even begin to guess how much beer has been swallowed down in that room. We do not pee in the dark.

We are also not a family known for turning off lights, and that light has run for hours, sometimes run for days, even for the duration of brief vacations when we have neglected to turn it off.

I fully realize that this means nothing to you. It's an anomaly, a quirk, a meaningless occurence. It's the toy in the drawer that still works, the lawnmower that starts after being left outside all winter, the dead Ipod that starts working after you whack it against the wall.

But I think there is something to these smallest of miracles.

Miracle? Yes. Miracles are signs. Miracles startle us with the unexpected; they make us pause and rexamine everything beyond us. As Miriam-Webster reminds us:

Definition of MIRACLE
1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

I'll leave the choice of more appropriate definition to you. For me, that light coming on each day, especially now as it takes longer to "warm up" and how it needs to "blink" one time before it's fully on is a reminder that the laws of the universe, the rules of physics, the expectations of nature and science don't always apply. Whoever made this light expected me to have to place it ten or more years ago, way back when all of the other flourescents went out. There was money to be made from the replacement. That size light may not even exist anymore. I don't know who made it or why it's still working, but no one else can explain it either.

For some reason, I find great comfort in that.

Cold War Kids' cover of the classic Creedence song comes from Cover Me Songs.

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