We all know about lighthouses. Stories and pictures have been stored in our memories from childhood. And now there are better ways today to warn ships of peril ahead than lighthouses, but I learned a good lesson about them from an old black-and-white movie the other night.
Lighthouse keepers seem to have an easy job. Turn the light on at dusk and off at full daylight. So, light the lamp, go to bed, and turn out the light when you get up. Of course, it doesn’t happen that way.
The windows of the lighthouse lamp must be cleaned each day, inside and out. A frosty or foggy window will not give a strong light to passing boats and ships. Every day all six or eight very large windows must be scrubbed and cleaned. Light bulbs are changed periodically lest one go out during a dark night. Weather reports must be monitored, so that passing vessels can be warned about high waves or low tides. Finding time to sleep must be difficult for the lighthouse keeper.
It also can happen that the light in the lighthouse is mistaken for another vessel by a passing ship. Reader’s digest has printed this incident, which as we saw, is true.
What does this have to do with us. If we are to project Jesus to those we meet, we must be like the lighthouse. Just as the lighthouse needs to be tended day and night by the keeper, so we must be tended by the Spirit. We can do nothing alone, but when we attend to the “Spirit Keeper,” we can do all things.
Daily we must see that the windows of our soul and clean and free of smog, or frost. Just turning the light on is not enough. If we speak of Jesus, we turn on the light, but unless we show by what we do and how we live, the windows of our lighthouse are too soiled to give the light a way out. We need to clean our minds and hearts to admit that even when we do not see things that are detrimental to our spiritual growth, there are things there.
The lighthouse keeper does not say, “The windows look clean enough to me. No need to wash them today.” No, there are always things we are not aware of that hold us back from becoming the strong beam Jesus wants us to be. One of the biggest deterrents to clean windows of the soul is pride.
I used to think the Pride was being a stuffed shirt or prima donna. You know that person, “I am the best! You are less than me! Poor you!” Guess what! My thinking that they were the epitome of pride was my own pride! Pride is usually much more subtle. It can show itself by our thoughts of contempt, or annoyance, or ridicule of another.
How often are we the outraged, but very wrong Captain?
And how often are we the saucy lighthouse keeper who knew he was right?
Peace and Joy,
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg