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First-world problems

As I’m sure many of you know, the Northeast region of the US was hit by some pretty amazing amounts of snow this past weekend.  My little corner of the region was not spared the white flaked spectacle of unimagined proportions – we were doused with somewhere between 6 and 8 inches of the heavy wet, well, crud that typifies early-season storms like this – although we were far from the hardest hit, with some totals of over thirty inches of snowfall.  Yes, for some of the hearty folks in regions blessed with lake-effect snow these totals are paltry, the kind of thing they don’t even  zip up their jackets to go out in.  But when you mix the surprising earliness of this storm with the fact that very few leaves had yet dropped from the trees, and then plop on top of that the wet and sticky quality of this snow, it was a recipe for disaster.

So, yeah, disaster is what ensued.  Not on Katrina-esque proportions of course, but I am not being overly flamboyant to say some areas look like they had suffered a hurricane or tornado with all the tree damage everywhere.  Millions without power, some were even killed.  And just plain lots of grumpy, miserable people as they wait and wait and wait and … wait for the crews to clear off the thousands of trees and tree chunks from the lines and roads and repair the damage to the lines.  Lines at Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds and Starbucks stretched out beyond parking lots and into roads as people looked for hot food and maybe a little time in a warm building.  And Wifi.

My house was one of the luckier ones – we had power and heat the whole time, while several of my friends and co-workers still suffer in now very cold homes.  But I didn’t have Cable TV or the broadband Internet connection that sizzles along that same line.  I was reduced to browsing and checking email and social networks on a 3G network that was both up-and-down and slow as molasses in January when it did work.  It.  Was.  Torture.  Many things I couldn’t even get to before the connection timed out (Comcast’s outage status board, I’m looking at you!).

It took me a while to realize just how stupid I was being.  I have often complained to myself how I would love a day when I can just do what I want to do without having to go somewhere or jump to do this or that.  And I had it dropped in my lap by virtue of, and isn’t this ironic, an “act of God”.  Yet here I was complaining that the one thing I really wanted was right in front of my face.  Apparently my cell data connection wasn’t the only thing running slowly that day.

I’ve been perpetually behind on my goal to read the entire Bible cover-to-cover in a year (I’m, um, about a year behind on that).  So once I grabbed a clue of what opportunity I was being offered I pulled down my Bible from the shelf, cross-checked my Logos reading plan, sat down with a hot cup of coffee and suffered through my first-world problem.  In no time I was through Tobit and Judith and back on my way to finishing my one-year plan in under two years.

There’s a commercial on television wherein the father sees his family ignoring one another, all engrossed in some high-tech action, so he slyly flips the big breaker on the house power and fires up the grill to feed his family around one table.  Maybe we all need some artificial first-world problems now and then to remind us how much can get done and how much better we can be to each other if only we keep the “gotta-do-now”s from constantly getting in the way of the “what I really oughtta do”s.  Make time for God.  Make time for each other.  No matter if it takes a faked power outage or a true act of God, take it for what it is and seek the good in everything that comes.

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