Why a Lighthouse?

Have you ever considered the importance of a lighthouse? I am fortunate to live in Northern California where I can visit lighthouses along the coastline. Born and raised in San Francisco, I grew up near the beach and always heard the fog horns blaring their warning sounds so that ships would not come too close to the shores.

Active lighthouses shine their brilliant lights that pierce the evening curtains of fog that line the coastline. For some, it is a comfort to know that land is towards that beaming light. For others, it is a fair warning to stay further out in the ocean.

While postcard pictures of these lighthouses display bright colors, one is sometimes disappointed when they approach the lighthouse in its current day. Weather and the salt air makes it difficult to maintain the original colors while rust and peeling paint are the usual sidings of these lighthouses.

Why am I writing about lighthouses today? Last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a drive throughout the weekend to visit a couple of nearby lighthouses (well, a 2-hour drive at least). Different days, different weather patterns.

On Saturday, we visited Point Reyes. Finding a parking space was a challenge followed by a half-mile hike to the top of the of the hill where a descent of 308 steps and two long slabs of concrete invite you to the lighthouse at the point of the coastline.

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Fortunately, there are strategically placed benches that welcomes the weary tourist to sit and enjoy the coastal scenery.

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The Point Reyes Lighthouse was a symbol of strength and grace. It withstands the brutal weather in this part of the coast day in and day out. The faithful workers of years past kept detailed records of the activities they observed and stories were recorded of shipwrecks as well.

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Needless to say, the weather cooperated and provided picturesque canvasses of natural beauty.

The next day, we visited Point Bonita Lighthouse in Sausalito and the weather was very different! Though the sun could not cut through the fog, the temperature was very tolerable. The path to this lighthouse was a steep climb along the mountain and through a small tunnel (see if you can spot the tunnel’s entrance).

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Once you walk through this short tunnel, you have to cross a bridge to get to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

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This lighthouse has seen better days but it was still functional for the many ships and boats in the Pacific Ocean.

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I thought about the parallelism of lighthouses. Sometimes, our lives are as smooth as a sunny day on the ocean where one can see forever. Other times, our lives are in turmoil and we simply cannot see our way through the thick fog.

Yet in both cases, the beacon of light shining from a lighthouse always guides us towards the safety of land where we can establish our footing before setting out on a new course on the ocean of life.

In the darkness, that beacon of light symbolizes hope. No matter how smooth or difficult our lives become, that beacon of hope always leads us back to a solid foundation. Of course, one must actually open their eyes to “look” for that beacon of light.

Too often, we blame our circumstances (the fog) when the hope has been in front of us the entire time. The fog horn (people who care enough to call us to safety) sounds out to us daily yet if we could only block out the unnecessary noise in life and “listen” for that familiar sound, we will once again find that beacon of hope.

Throughout my struggles in life, my beacon of hope has always been with God almighty. No matter what turmoil occurs in my life, I can always count on that bright light to pierce the darkness and foggy weather of my life. It is not always easy and it does take courage to continue to live in spite of the circumstances.

I hope your beacon of light or hope is strong enough to guide you home and onto solid ground.

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