In this age of smart phones, wifi, and mobile offices, it seems that our daily lives become more and more dependent upon consistent and reliable sources of power. We use electricity to keep our homes comfortable, our food safe, and entertainment ready. For some life and livelihood depend upon access to power that keeps life saving machines working. Unfortunately, access to reliable power is often something that suffers in the wake of a disaster.
This is why power outages, especially if they are extended, can cause a surprising amount of distress. The effects of an outage can range from the mild inconveniences to serious impact on health or work. Outages often occur simultaneously with a natural disaster, but also may continue to happen in both planned and unplanned fashions for weeks or even months after the disaster as various infrastructure projects and repairs take place. Sometimes planned outages are done in advance of expected extreme weather to help avoid fires and often last 3-5 days.
The continued unreliability of a utility that has such great influence on our ability to predict meals, complete work, or relax after a hard day wears on the spirits of affected communities. Unexpected outages in particular can bring up fear as people may associate them with the disaster and be afraid that something is happening again.
Part of being a thoughtful spiritual director, who cares about the whole person, means acknowledging and caring for these kinds of daily needs that are difficult in the aftermath of disaster. Addressing this fear may be as simple as making sure that your directees are aware of how the power company communicates and where they can go to get updates on return of service or any planned outages. Or, that particular distress may be a doorway to naming deeper fears about safety and sustenance. Incorporating grounding practices into sessions or recommended disciplines can be helpful. Assisting with personal calming practices as well as help identifying what connects them to a sense of safety when caught off-guard can be a great gift to directees in these circumstances.
Some questions to consider as you meet with directees who are experiencing power outages:
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Erin Jantz received her Master’s Degree in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from the Institute for Spiritual Formation. She also holds a B.A. in developmental psychology and has furthered her education with trainings in trauma care from Boston University and intensives with Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk. She has been practicing spiritual direction since 2012, helped to author ICTG's Spiritual Formation Resource Guide, and also teaches and speaks on a variety of spiritual formation topics. Erin lives in Southern California with her husband and their four marvelous children.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION BLOG
From 2012-2020, this blog space explored expanding understanding and best practices for holistic health in the context of spiritual direction.
This website serves as a historical mark of work the Institute conducted prior to 2022. This website is no longer updated.