Last evening, the Knoxville Paulists gathered at Blessed John XXIII University Catholic Center to celebrate Mass with our Paulist novice, who (after spending the lenten season in Knoxville and working at John XXIII) is scheduled to be returning to the novitiate in Washington DC later today. Since we were still without power in our house, and since I needed electricity to power my CPAP machine for safe and healthy sleeping, I decided to spend the night at John XXIII in what used to be the Paulists' residence there (back in the good old days before our current home). I had spent Tuesday night at the hotel next to Immaculate Conception, but unless absolutely necessary I was not too eager to spend that kind of money a second night in a row!
The Catholic Students' Association was having its weekly meeting. So there was plenty of activity at the Center, which was a welcome alternative to spending the evening either alone in my office at the parish or in the dark at the house. Meanwhile, a band of dangerous storms was making its way up from the south - an intense mix of thunder, lightning, heavy rain, wind, and hail. Some of the students and at one point all of us had to take refuge briefly in the basement during the tornado warnings. Fortunately no tornado actually materialized - unlike what happened so tragically in Alabama, for example.
Meanwhile at about 9:05 p.m., the lights went out. So much for my plan to be able to use my machine during the night! The storms came and went - more thunder, more torrential rain, more hail. Hail is perhaps not intrinsically more frightening (if one is indoors), but it certainly adds to the scary atmosphere!
Eventually, most of the students were able to leave safely. Once the doors were locked, Fr. Charlie and I went downstairs to the office area (the former residence), and I settled down in a reclining arm chair for another machine-less night. I recited what I could of Compline from memory, then began the Rosary. I must have dozed off briefly by the end of the first mystery, when suddenly I was awakened at about 11:30 by bright office lights. The power was back! By then, the worse seemed definitely over. I hooked up my machine and managed to get some sleep. But what a strange and scary night it had been!
When I drove home early this morning, I was relieved to see that the Power Company seemed to be starting to work on our street. There was still no power when I drove to the office, but I have since been told that power has indeed been restored!
So tonight I can sleep safely in my own bed, grateful to be back in a totally technological environment - and then get up bright and early tomorrow morning to watch the Royal Wedding!