lanterns and lights (11.15am)

the village i grew up in was about twenty kilometers from lumi in the sandaun province of papua new guinea. surrounded by dense jungle on all sides, a great appreciation for lanterns and lights grew in me.

long-handled silver flashlights were a prized possession.  but if moonlight was enough, their heaviness was  slipped into loose back pockets or bilums. batteries were currency. you did not waste a single penny.

in the evening i would see children the size of my eight years alive D, carrying slow burning bamboo torches, flames dancing in front of them.  mothers and older siblings trailed behind carrying back bending results from gardens and sleeping babies.

you never knew how many followed that beacon until each one had crossed the pool of light from our coleman kerosene lantern— lit faithfully by my dad each evening as the sun downed.

i was relieved every time the mantle flared into bright white, light… filling the house until bedtime.   and when he turned it down to eventual nothing, darkness rushed in to fill up every space.

somewhere between goodnight back scratches and whispered prayers my mum would light the blackened wick of a small lamp beside my mosquito net covered bed.  i would insist she lift it, feeling for enough kerosene to last through my sleeping.

it was a ready warrior against the night dark and sounds that never shushed. it was my faithful guide down a suddenly longer hall when i took my bad dreams to the bad-dreams-not-allowed-here safety of my parents bed.

an old friend gave me a gift of a lantern after years of living in america.

i do not light it as often as i want to.  but when i do it is ready.

ready to light paths and lead people and keep the darkness from rushing in.


Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. 

psalm 119:105 (NASB)


9 thoughts on “lanterns and lights (11.15am)

  1. Oh that brings back so many memories!! My friends here still can’t quite believe that I grew up without mains electricity. :-) Yep, those trusty Colemans….my Mum once gave me a keyring of a mini-Coleman, complete with a little light inside. I had a lamp like that by my bed too, though we blew it out at ‘sleep time’ as a torch always stood by its side. But as we had to cross an open verandah to get to the bathroom, I still woke my sister up every night when I needed to go to the loo as I was too scared of the dark – despite torch – to go on my own. Bless her – she came with me every time – that’s true sisterly love!!

    • now you’re bringing back memories! :) we turned our lamps down super low… parents might have blown them out towards morning. i remember my dad walking me to the out house at night and guarding the door while i prayed for no snakes or spiders lol…
      i still get excited when the power goes out. :) rain and power outages…we are weird. xo

      • was only telling someone about the fireflies the other day – how much i miss not seeing them here! what wonderful little creatures…so unassuming when looked at in the light, but so beautiful and magical when all the other lights go out. :-)

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