Shedding the load

My computer power was almost out, I had to hurry. There was only one hour to try to charge it as much as I could or I would be stuck without it until tomorrow.

“Stage 1 load shedding will be implemented from 1700 – 2200.”

Right. Find the power cord. Find the adapter. At 3% power – how much will I get in one hour? We’ll see.

Staying in the guest-house on my recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa, I got to experience load shedding. So what is load shedding? The City of Cape Town website explains:

“Loadshedding is a measure of last resort to prevent the collapse of the power system country-wide. When there is insufficient power station capacity to supply the demand (load) from all the customers, the electricity system becomes unbalanced, which can cause it to trip out country-wide (a blackout), and which could take days to restore.”  So instead of letting the high demand for energy destabilize the system and cause a prolonged blackout, the South African power company has a planned system for turning off power in a systematic and shared way.

Stage 1 – one area at a time is affected to reduce power consumption

Stage 2 – two areas at a time are affected

Stage 3a – three areas

Stage 3b – four areas

A friend of mine joked, “stage 5 is where they come to your house and blow out your candle.”

1610 – computer plugged in and charging. I’m hungry so walk to the corner store (I don’t know if the store has a generator and I’m not keen on shopping in the dark).

1645 – back from the store. Computer at 55%. I look around and put the solar lights in strategic places. I briefly wonder what happens to the security system in this place during load shedding, then try to forget about that.

1655 – dinner set on the table, solar lamps and a Good Book waiting.

1705 – power goes out.

Slowing the pace with a Good Book.

Slowing the pace with a Good Book.

So what happens when we are forced to do without power? We slow down. We turn off the screens. Well, they’re turned off for us. We go to a friend’s house to finish cooking the dinner we started before power went off. We visit awhile and get to enjoy relationship. We plan ahead. “Come over to watch the game at my place if your power is out.” We appreciate the times when the power is on.

When I’m on vacation – even if it is for a hectic medical conference like this one – there is still a sense of freedom from the everyday obligations that follow us at home. Maybe that’s why Japanese writer Marie Kondo’s movement to declutter our lives has appeal.  She has some good ideas on how to organize your stuff to be less of a burden. (Mostly it is to get rid of everything that you don’t need or doesn’t bring you joy). We take on so many obligations and objects that our load is quite heavy.

So I think shedding our load is a great idea. Maybe I won’t be so enthusiastic when I am living here in Cape Town, my lasagna is half done, and the power goes out from an unplanned, emergency load-shedding. But to intentionally remove the excess distractions from our lives is a great idea. To do so in a planned way lets us decide who and what is worthy of our precious energy.

So how can we do it?  How do we begin off loading the baggage that spills from our real and psychological closets?

We can’t.   Not on our own.   Not even with Marie Kondo’s help.

There is one perfect, ultimate load-shedder. He even offered to do it for us:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30

So if you are worn down, whether you have power or don’t, Jesus is waiting to bring you peace and rest. You just have to ask Him to do it.

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