Lighthouses stand stalwart and true where land meets the sea.
An important navigational aid to guide ships into port, That light was the only thing standing between a ship and disaster.
The legend of Nags Head in the Outer Banks of North Carolina tells of land pirates hanging a lantern around the neck of a horse and walking her along the huge dunes at Jockey’s Ridge. This was to trick ship captains into running aground on the shoals so the ship could then be looted.
My mom loved lighthouses. She collected little lighthouse tchotchkes, anything from pictures to candles to actual replicas of lighthouses.
YBW loves lighthouses too. He also has a (much smaller than Mommie’s) collection of lighthouse tchotchkes.
I asked him what he loved so much about lighthouses and this is what he told me:
Lighthouses represent adventure. They make me feel like being on vacation.
Now, this fascinated me! He loves lighthouses because to him, the represent the freedom to travel.
This quick conversation lead me to consider what a lighthouse might mean to me, and here’s what I came up with:
A lighthouse is a beacon, a guiding light to keep you safe.
I see how differently my husband and I view lighthouses. To him it’s adventure and travel. To me a haven. These views are absolutely influenced by the way we grew up. He grew up sheltered in a safe and idyllic family, I grew up abandoned by one parent and discarded by the other.
But together he and I create the complete lighthouse concept. At the edge of land, at once sending you off on adventures and welcoming you home again.
I would love to know why my mom loved them…I wonder why it never occurred to me to ask her that question?
Lighthouses continue to stand long after outliving usefulness.
We explored such a lighthouse on our honeymoon.
Harrison Point Lighthouse
St Lucy, Barbados.
This lighthouse was built of concrete in 1925.
It was deactivated in (approximately) 2007 and has been abandoned since (approximately) 2011. We visited the lighthouse in 2015 and this is what we found.
The red steel door torn from the hinge.
Ruined motor and electrical panel.
Starting up the steps.
Curling up higher and higher.
No more concrete.
Rusted metal steps to the service room.
At the door to the service room.
The floor here is beginning to rust straight through. We tread with great care.
This panel is worse off than the one downstairs.
I crawled with hands and feet up these rusty ladder stairs to the lantern room.
A look back at the lantern room door.
The lens was long gone. Most of the lantern room glass too. We found the broken bits on the ground at the base of the lighthouse. Some huge chunks of Fresnel lens mixed in with so much window glass. (YBW brought some home and keeps them on his desk at work and here at home.)
It was breathtakingly beautiful.
The door to the outer ring around the lantern room was open and as I leaned the top of my body out, YBW urged me to stay put. He saw the rusty railings, knows I’m a bit klutzy, put two and two together and said: If you fall, you will die, I can’t be a widower when we’ve been married less than a week. Please don’t.
He was scared for my safety. The more I looked out at the very thin railing rusting at all the important joints, I was compelled to stay where I was. The warm afternoon light gave me the gooseflesh.
I wrote about lighthouses because I read a post early this morning about praying at the edge of the sea.
I was moved by the visual created by those words. The sea carrying a prayer to the far reaches of the world then returning it magnified.
What if that’s what lighthouses really are?
What if they continually send and receive prayers?
What if they are the “guiding light” of all the seaside prayers? Or love? Or adventures? Or safe havens?
And even after they no longer light the sky they never stop sending and receiving those all-important intangibles?