Monday, December 5, 2011

Long Nights

I find the nights here in PNG oddly long.  Odd because it feels like summer, and we ought to have plenty of time after supper to walk the dog or play catch in the nearby field—like we do during the summer in northern Wisconsin.  I sometimes forget that all outdoor activities need to be completed before 6:00 PM, and that our evening meal usually takes place behind locked doors and drawn curtains.

Nighttime is so dark here.  In the USA, our days and nights blend together.  Street lights, security lights, road signs and store signs overpower the distant stars in most towns.  Cities never really sleep in America.  We buy groceries, medicine, milk shakes or even insurance policies at 2:30 AM if we so desire.  With 24-hour emergency rooms, towing companies, consumer hotlines and radio stations, we can almost pretend nighttime doesn’t exist.

And I am so newly transplanted from that land of 24/7 assurance, that I find myself a little anxious every evening.  “What if we run out of Children’s Tylenol? What if the water tank springs a leak?  What if I just have to have a sausage and mushroom pizza in the middle of the night?”  I don’t think I’ve ever indulged in a midnight pizza even when it was just a phone call away, but there is something in just knowing you could have it if you really “needed” it.

Here in Papua New Guinea it usually just waits till morning. 

When my daughter was 3, she broke her arm here in PNG.  The accident occurred just as the clinic was closing at 5:00 PM.  Of course, there is always a doctor or nurse on call and they graciously treated Claire as best they could.  The moody x-ray machine, however, revealed a break that our doctor said would require surgery and thus a medical evacuation to Australia.  But because it was dark, no airplane could fly my daughter and husband to that surgery until the following morning.  It was a very long night, and one I don’t wish to repeat.

So as evening sets in, I take comfort in Isaiah 60:19-20.  “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.  Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down.  For the Lord will be your everlasting light.  Your days of mourning will come to an end.”  (NLT)  Darkness is so often used in a negative sense in the Bible, it’s no wonder the final triumph of light over darkness is a theme repeatedly found in Scripture.  (Micah 7:8, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, 1 John 1:5)

In ever-bright America, the urgency of this truth was lost on me.  Here in the darkness of a wet Papua New Guinean night, I catch a glimpse of the joy that dawns with that endless day.


Evan said...

Why do you have to go in after dark? Is it dangerous?

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