Climb Every Lighthouse

This last year, I’ve been inside two lighthouses and actually climbed to the top of one of them. The journey upward was not an easy one as I’m not a big fan of heights, but I decided to just go for the first window so that I could then tell people (without actually lying) ‘yes, I climbed up a lighthouse.’ It’s strange inside these towers. Sounds are magnified and echo with odd distortions that are other worldly. The stairs are metal and they can move or sway beneath your feet, creaking and grinding with sounds that are reminiscent of the sound effects from Titanic. You are forced into close physical contact with strangers who are coming down as you are going up, and who have not necessarily showered anytime recently. For me it was an altogether unpleasant experience, filled with moments where I was thinking, ‘why am I doing this just so I can lie to people.’ But after reaching the first window, I went for the second window. After just a few steps, I was thinking, ‘I didn’t even have to climb to the first window, I could have just flat out lied.’ Still, I proceeded to the third window and eventually the top. My fear of heights was at full force as I imagined the lighthouse collapsing beneath my feet. I peeked my head out the doorway at the top and took in the view. Magnificent. Others were standing along the railing outside, some actually leaning against the railing. Who are these crazy people? Anyway, I judiciously leaned out the doorway far enough to snap a photo and then quickly began my descent to the ground (and sanity). Much can be said about climbing a lighthouse as a metaphor for the spiritual life. It’s not going to happen by just thinking about it. You can approach it one step at a time, and in phases. You have to constantly choose to keep going. The world around you can distract you and try to dissuade you. You are constantly forced to deal with people in ways you would prefer not to. You have to deal with your own weaknesses. Even the view from the first window is breathtaking. Or you could just pretend and lie about the whole thing. I say start climbing.

Glacial Movement

Many people have posted a picture similar to this, one of the many Alaskan glaciers. Many have even posted pictures of the glacier calving, that is, small pieces breaking off the main glacier. In order to take such a photo, you have to wait patiently, camera at the ready. You have to stay focused on the glacier, fingers poised for action. If you glance away, or get distracted, or your mind wanders, you miss the shot. Sometimes I think God is like these glaciers. He’s there, but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything. In truth, glaciers are always moving, though it doesn’t seem that way. So too, God.¬†We are frequently looking at other things, thinking of other things. We are distracted. And so we miss God like we miss the calving of the glacier. It takes a little patient, focused,¬†waiting to see or hear from God. The glacier is a reminder of that.