She comes to me in the middle of the night, crying. I pull her small body into my bed next to me. “What’s wrong?” I ask, pushing hair from her eyes.
“I’m scared of the dark,” she whimpers, her body settling into mine.
“Me too. Remember when I screamed when I was taking the trash outside?”
She laughs. “But it was just a bumpy toad, Mama!”
“I know. Or remember that night your brother jumped out at me, and I dropped the stuff I was carrying? I get afraid in the dark too, baby. Why are you afraid?”
“Monsters and bad guys and bad things that might come.”
“I’m scared of that too.”
And I am. Bad things happen in the dark when no one can see. Bad guys lurk in the dark where no one can find them. Monsters are real, and they live, thrive, and grow in the dark.
She sighs deeply and falls asleep, breathing warm air onto my face. I also eventually fall back asleep, not noticing her again until the soft light from the morning sun shines onto her. The dark is gone. Monsters, bad guys, and bad things are but a distant memory as she plays and eats and laughs, able to see everything around her by the light of day.
Morning came. She is safe.
It’s bedtime again. She’s anxious about what she knows is coming. The lights will be turned out; the dark will surround her. But first, we settle into her bed together to read a bedtime story, The Terrible Troll Bird, by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire.
Ola and his sisters Lina, Sina, and Trina were shocked when they first saw the trolls’ rooster. Their description of the terrible, giant bird was so fantastical that their mother didn’t believe them until she saw the bird with her own eyes.
The village took care of the rooster, even as terrible as he was. They roasted the bird and used his beak and claws to make a boat and pitchforks. The bird’s feathers became pillows, and his skin became shoes. They spent the night celebrating and feasting, for the troll bird was dead.
But the celebration turned to panic when the bird’s owners, Jotun and Gygra, the trolls from the mountain, arrived. The trolls were big enough and strong enough to torment and destroy the villagers. They would give the villagers and their homes to their troll children.
Everyone in the village scattered in their fear. They hid and cowered – except for Ola, Lina, Sina, and Trina. They knew that morning was coming.
Trolls live in the dark and are destroyed by the sun. As night was overtaken by the sun, the trolls quickly hardened into rocks. The rocks burst into pieces that fell to the ground. The trolls are now and forever inanimate rocks and will never again be a threat or danger. Morning came, and the villagers were saved. Morning came and with it peace, hope, and salvation.
I close the book and feel the deep sigh of a contented child.
“Trolls are bad, Mama.”
“Yep.” I begin to tuck her in.
“Trolls are bad, but they don’t win.”
“No. They don’t ever win, do they?” I sing to her, pray with her, and kiss her forehead. “See you in the morning, sweetheart.”
My youngest awakens me with another mid-sleep visit. I know by now why she’s here, but I ask anyway. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m afraid of the dark.” Her face is wet with tears as I pick her up and put her beneath her my covers. She wiggles her body into a spot beside me that suits her, and her breathing slows until she’s asleep. I pray over her. I whisper into her hair,
How long did the Israelites think the darkness would last? Did they lose hope in the God of light, the God of their salvation? Did they even remember that He had promised that morning was coming? Or did they give up hope, thinking the dark had won?
When Morning came, they didn’t recognize him. Some even thought they could defeat him with the darkness. But he came, he fought the darkness, and he won.
Morning came and it defeated the darkness. Morning came and he defeated the darkness.
The dark may speak right now––it may hide bad guys and monsters who want to eat us––but the darkness cannot, will not, win. Morning is coming. The trolls will be defeated. The villagers will be rescued. The monsters and bad guys will lose. The pain and fear we have will be gone. The threats and dangers will be no more. They have lost.
Morning is coming again. Morning is coming and that means light, glorious light. Morning is coming and with it peace, hope, and salvation.
Featured image by freepik