Friday, January 3, 2014


Overlooking Lake Superior stands a lighthouse on Devil's Island, one of 22 islands trailing off the northern coast of Wisconsin as it reaches into the mystic grand lake known by the Ojibwe Tribe as Gichigami. It is not the only lighthouse standing sentry in these islands and, by far, not the only one guarding the shores of largest freshwater lake in the world. In operation since 1891, one can only imagine the number of ships and sailors who have used the lighthouse as a guide by either signaling rocky shores or lighting the way home. The lighthouse has always stood at its post, aware of its task, and sure of its purpose.

Though fierce storms may brew, kicking and turning those upon the waters in frightening turmoil, the lighthouse stands calmly in its designated place. When a ship is in peril, rescue teams are dispatched to save the crew. Only certain people can be on the rescue team, ones who are inherently skilled to work best in a crisis. When successful, they receive applause for their efforts and accolades for the lives saved. There is a great need for rescuers, but not everyone is equipped to be one. It might be easier to be a lighthouse.

Or is it?
Devil's Island Light Tower
near Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA

A lighthouse stands watching all the drama unfold, unable to move because that would betray its purpose. Its purpose is to be the unwavering tower above the turmoil, the beacon in the darkness, the safe place to return. It fulfills it purpose without fail, never receiving recognition or applause, yet always ready to do the job again and again.

Some people in our lives are like lighthouses; some are like rescuers. Still others are perpetually in peril. Each is dependent on the other to make this world spin. I have known a couple lighthouses in my life. My father was one, always the strong center of our world. The other lighthouse I know has been fulfilling his duty quietly for over 20 years, being the unassuming tower who always points us to where we need to be. If you're lucky, you find yourself sipping coffee on Sunday morning with him while watching fishing shows, talking about nothing upon nothingness. I never watch fishing shows (well, hardly ever) -- I don't even fish -- but on these Sundays, on these visits, I would not miss it. There is an inherent comfort in these small moments.

Always look for the lighthouses. They know the way home.

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