Global Outages

One of my school administrators sent an email recently that their phone system provider was experiencing a global outage. I’ve received emails from this administrator in the past, emails about the learning management system being down, some technical update being scheduled, or something that felt really distant from any language I use or, frankly, understand. Global outage grabbed me.

It was a phrase that captured aspects of my interior life to that moment. Just the day prior I had been praying for someone, an act that seems common to me, my entire ride home. She asked me to pray and I did. For 39 minutes I talked with God about her. And I started speaking with God by saying how hard it was to ask for the very things on my own behalf that I was asking for that sister. I was in the crevice of my own global outage.

I had been experiencing that outage, where my conceptions and systems and structures for what I’ve known as my life with God weren’t working. I’ve been participating in a different life with God, one that I’ve examined in spiritual direction, that started six years ago when my father died. That death, that loss reoriented where God and I were, the distance between us, the proximity, the curiosity. The years of re-conception have been rich. And painful.

Another outage occurred more recently, and follow up outages can be more debilitating than prior ones. Outages with details so wide and broad it helps not to go into them. They are, to put it briefly, another entrance into their own global outage. If you’ve had them, you know that there are the “intermittent issues,” “the delays in progress,” your own failed attempts to recover and repair and reset. In life–outside of computers and databases and files–global outages are world-orienting. But they are, first, completely disorienting.

They’re hard to write about, difficult to talk about, and full of immense energies spilling in countless directions. You have a sense that work is being done. You can hear, in the quietest voice, regular whispers of that work. As my computer guy said to me last month, “there are updates going on here.”

In the outage, God is working. I know that’s true. I have seen and witnessed it, even if my internal world of grief feels opposite. I know something in my spirit that I don’t feel anywhere else. That is one way to speak of faith.

Creating things that will show themselves. Refashioning systems that were so burdened that they snapped. Mending spirits so broken that their pieces look like shiny dust blowing in a million directions. But there is more than dust. There is more than what’s broken, bruised, and crushed.

I’m not sure what’s there. I’m not clear yet what’s coming. But there is a stream shaping in the dust. There is a current in the making. It’s a faith claim to be sure, but it is also based upon a deep knowing. At some point, there will be resolution.

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