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  • Writer's pictureMark McMinn

Right to Left

Nope. This isn't a political post. They're not hard to find, though, if that's what you're looking for. This post is about electric meters, "plentiful sunshine," changing directions, awakening from a pandemic, hope, and the Chicago Cubs.


All winter the digital display on our outside electric meter moves left to right, the normal direction one might expect when reading a book in English. The faster it moves, the more energy we consume. On some cloudy Pacific Northwest days in mid-winter the meter resembles speed reading. I work outside a lot, so when I stroll by I sometimes stop to glimpse the flow of energy in our little slice of the world, pondering how many resources we use to make our lives convenient and the house warm.

This post is about electric meters, "plentiful sunshine," changing directions, awakening from a pandemic, hope, and the Chicago Cubs

March brings sunshine in Oregon, at least some years. The weather.com forecast for yesterday and today read, "plentiful sunshine." Everything seems to wake this time of year--the daffodils, Columbia Star blackberries, and blueberries. Buds on the peach trees are about to burst open.


The solar panels that populate our south-facing roof and the edge of our garden also wake up, and on these sunny days I pause to notice the meter and smile a "plentiful" smile because it's not just that the digital meter has slowed down, it's actually changed directions. Right to left means we are generating more energy than we are using, and sometimes it moves so fast that it makes me consider what speed reading in Aramaic or Hebrew might be like.


I've been pondering the word "pivot" this week, partly because our electric meter is changing directions, partly because I heard a sermon with that word a week ago, and partly because I'm daring to hope that the pandemic weighing down the planet is about to lighten. This spring and summer may bring a remarkable pivot.

I'm daring to hope that the pandemic weighing down the planet is about to lighten

Social scientists who study hope sometimes use a classic pain tolerance exercise where they ask people to hold their hand in ice water as long as possible. It turns out more hopeful people are willing to tolerate more pain than others. Why? That's not entirely clear, but it may have something to do with vision for the future. Those who are able to anticipate a better future moment also seem most prepared to endure discomfort in the current moment.

Those who are able to anticipate a better future moment also seem most prepared to endure discomfort in the current moment

Does it seem like we've had our hand in a bucket of ice for a long time now? This Rip Van Winkle year blurs in so many ways, but it seems we may finally be waking up, changing directions, finding hope and a vision for the future.


My daughter and I have an annual summer tradition of traveling to a somewhere-else city to watch the Chicago Cubs play a baseball game. We missed last year, but today we started dreaming and texting about a trip to watch the Cubs and Diamondbacks play in July. Cubs fans have a long history of hope.

Cubs fans have a long history of hope

Maybe I'm just deluded by two days of Oregon sunshine after many months of rain, but it seems at least possible that the world is in the midst of changing directions. Maybe soon we will be visiting in one another's homes again, worshiping side-by-side, seeing our family and friends without nagging questions about the risks we pose one another. Maybe those family tensions about who is being safe enough and too careless and too fearful will all fade away as we relish the delight of one another's company.



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