Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
As Shannon and I drove the Oregon Coast, I received an educational experience on lighthouses. Our driving route, north to south, contained one about every thirty miles or so. The most important thing for you to know, though, is that my wife fell in love with them, which means we stopped each chance we got. She photographed them from below at the base, from 100 yards away, from hikes we took that brought us over top of them, and of course from pullouts looking back at them. In addition to looking and shooting, each house had volunteers present to inform visitors about the history. Like I said, it was an education. Lighthouses no longer have practical use due to satellite navigational systems. Almost every ship now, from a commercial tanker to a small fishing boat, carries a GPS of some sort. So lighthouses remain merely for cosmetically enhancing the coastal views and also as a tribute to the past. Reading through documentaries and logs from lighthouse keepers entertained me immensely. A government appointment, a lighthouse keeper lived an incredibly lonely life. Not to mention the experience of witnessing and documenting the ships that smashed into the coastal rocks.
What caught me most about experiencing the lighthouses was seeing how their beauty captured my wife’s heart. Each time we parked, I’d watch her jump out of the car with such energy, such giddy excitement. It was as if each vertical tower offered her a personal invitation. They were, hands down, her favorite portion of the trip, which says a lot considering the competition. Each lighthouse was an adventure to explore and photograph in just the right light. The waves crashing on the rocky shoreline mixed with the plush green countryside beyond the beaches provided a romantic and striking background. I don’t think lighthouses would be so picturesque without the coastal backdrop. An erected fortress standing in the middle of a landlocked park would be nothing more than the leaning tower of Pisa without the lean. I’ve been to Pisa and the famous site wasn’t really worth the train ride. No, the beauty of a lighthouse that delighted Shannon’s heart so is grounded in the lush setting.
The romance and delight invoked by the lighthouse invited my wife to worship the Lord. She felt wooed by the beauty as God twirled her across His dance floor. Walking into the gift shops and seeing so many sunset photographs of lighthouses told me that she is not the first to respond like this. Observing this blessed me, but it also seemed paradoxical. The question that came to me was this: Will lighthouses be in heaven? Lighthouses entice us and evoke romance, yet stand for another purpose entirely. The initial intent was not to create something majestic, but to save traveling ships from being dashed against jagged cliffs and shorelines. Check out Nickel Creek’s The Lighthouse’s Tale for a vivid telling. Such a need can only be found in a tragic world where death is feared and faith is sustaining. In heaven, there’ll be no faith because the existence of doubt will be absent. Nor will there be danger. Considering this, it was rather incredible to see my wife giggle and marvel at lighthouses. It caused me to marvel at God, who either caused or allowed a need for a marine warning device and at the same time uses it to bless and court my wife into His embrace. I don’t understand that controversial creativity. I’d rather have things simply be good or bad. It’s so much easier to categorize things as “of God” or “of Evil”. Yet, lighthouses now stand as a reminder to me that the Lord interweaves tragedy and redemption, using them both in His mysterious ways.