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Waiting for Dawn


sunrise waiting for dawn haiti blog by quiara pinchhina


My soul waiteth for God more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.


I imagine that the person writing this psalm was a soldier. A soldier whose job was to guard the mouth of a cave full of sleeping comrades or maybe the gate of a city. Blurry eyed. Looking out over the hills dotted with a few scattered fires of the shepherds. Nose a little numb from the cold. Those fires must have looked inviting. And the companionship even more so. Behind him, the solid wall of the city he guarded. He would have thought of the peaceful faces... Couples curled up against each other, a careless arm thrown protectively over a partner. Chubby baby faces with black lashes closed against soft brown cheeks. Asleep. It must have been torture to think of it. Stone faced, he would set his face toward the east. A million times each night he would imagine it, that faint glow, the ever so slight lightening of the black curtain of night. And finally, after his eyes blinked closed for the thousandth time, it would be for real, a pin prick of light in the east - the dawn.


The dawn is like that. It comes magically, and you never know just when you will see that first speck of light. People say that the darkest hour is before the dawn, and while that’s not scientifically true, we do perceive it that way. The night is long, so long, when you’re waiting for it to end. When you’re the watchman. The night consumes you. In a time of darkness, fear, and no direction from God, it’s impossible to see what will happen. A thousand times you think you see the pinprick of light. A million times your eyes close again with weariness.


The night in Haiti comes fast. You’re out on the town, and suddenly the sun goes behind the mountains. The potholes in the road quickly become impossible to see, and there are few streetlights to magically come on every evening. It seems that everyone around you has a car with brighter lights than yours, and many turn their flashers on. The motos have flashing red and blue lights that reflect off the water puddles, blinding you. It’s each to their own. And your engine dies. On an intersection with no lights and little traffic, known for a high bandit population. The hood is up so fast, and you’re trying to figure out the problem by the light of a cell phone flashlight. Yes, the coming of the night in Port au Prince changes things. If you’re out driving tap-tap, the people waiting on the street are just a bit more frantic to flag you down for a ride. The mood in the back is a little less like a joyous family reunion (I know, they’re all strangers anyway, but usually they're having a good old time back there) and more like a group of horses instinctively herding together at the sign of danger. And even if you’re at home, peaceful, behind a locked gate, some nights there will be the gunshots. The men who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil will come out to do their work. And in the morning you hear of the person who was taken. All signs are erased, but someone’s watch ended last night before the dawn.


The dawn, like the night, comes fast to this island of mountains. It’s pitch dark, then gray, the abundant rooster population starts to crow, and then the whole world wakes up at once. Noise, light, and many times songs fill the neighborhood. A lady goes by calling out her wares, “Zè bouyi, zè bouyi! Bannan miske! Bannan miske zè bouyi!” Someone is knocking on your gate already. The night is over. Eat a plantain and a boiled egg. Prepare yourself for the day. Sing a song and pray. The day has arrived!


And the cycle goes on. For every day, there is a night. And for every night, there is a day. And can we accept the fact that our lives will inevitably follow this cycle? So many times, I have thought, “When this one night is over, I will be happy. The next day will be so beautiful and bright. I will be so happy how could I possibly want or need another thing in my life - ever? If God will only answer this one prayer, I will be ushered into endless day.”


And it’s true. The dawn is so beautiful! The day is bright with sunshine, and the palm trees whisper in the breeze. The sky is robin’s egg blue. But in my experience, another night will always come. The day will pass, and shadows of fear and insecurity will come again into my life. Often they come quickly, without warning. And always the night is hard to accept.


Maybe because of being raised in a land of streetlights, cozy living room lamps, and cell phones with flashlights, it’s become harder for us to accept the night. Unlike the watchman who wrote Psalm 130, we haven’t ever taken up our post at dusk, fully comprehending what the night would be like. Dark. Seemingly unending. With no escape except simply waiting. We can only accept the night if, like the watchman, we believe in the dawn. We must grasp the fact that in this fallen world there is day, followed by night. Night, followed by day.


My soul waiteth for God more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

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