Flipping The Switch(es).

by Chris Kamalski

In 6 short hours, we’re flipping the electrical switches off on our entire property (save security lights), and Pangani (as well as every staff house throughout Pretoria North) will go dark from roughly 5pm Thursday until 4pm Friday.  Curtis Love explains the purpose behind why our community is practicing deliberate conservation of electricity below, but also the surprisingly valuable benefits of what happens when we turn off the lights, even for a few short hours.  As I scramble in some haste this morning to ‘get everything done’ before we ‘go dark’ this evening, my mildly anxious freneticism leads me to realize that this communal (forced) discipline is deeply needed at this moment in our rhythm.  The mere fact that I type these scattered fragments knowing ‘I have too much to do, for this to be taking place’ leads me to believe that it’s time to shut it down.

I’ll return Saturday morning to the Matrix that we call the online world…for now, enjoy Curtis’ musings:

No electricity folks. That’s right. For one full rotation of this lonely planet, once a month, abstinence from electricity. That is one of our commitments we as a community have made for the year of 2009. This practice is driven by a desire to reduce our carbon emissions which is hurting planet earth and disrupting fragile (and sacred!) ecosystems. It creates the space for us to think about ways we can function and be without electricity for one day. It also functions as a symbol that we are committed to being part of the solution to preserving Our Home, God’s creation. It keeps us aware of the impact we are having on our world and hopefully sensitizes us to continually seek to reduce our consumption of electricity.

As we have begun to practice this we have experienced two unintended consequences from this abstinence. This first unintended consequence of abstaining from electricity is that with the lack of distractions created by computers, TV, music etc one can actually quite easily become quiet and meditation, prayer and the much needed rest we all need becomes a lot easier. How much of our energy is wasted on worrying about e-mails that need to be written or work that needs to be done on the computer? Even though we are over worked and tired and in desperate need of rest and solitude, how much time do we spend in front of the TV trying to ‘get some rest’ and then later feel guilty and equally (if not more) tired than when we first sat down. That is the beauty of no electricity days. They remove all these distractions and carve out a beautiful space for peaceful rest and restorative meditation and prayer. The second unintended consequence of abstaining from electricity is that you rediscover the lost art of conversation, of simply being together and enjoying one another’s company. I remember the first abstinence day we practiced. After some time we all managed to find ourselves outside around a table chatting. No e-mails, no TV, no music nothing. Just pure, unadulterated conversation it was great.

Curtis’ full post: The Unintended Consequences of Abstaining from…Electricity.