My aunt is seriously one of the most incredible people I know. She knows EVERYTHING! I e-mail questions all the time and she always has the most insightful answers and recommendations for further study on the topic. Half of the things I say are regurgitations of the things I learned from her. (Okay, I’m sure she doesn’t literally know everything, but she knows everything I want to know!)
After realizing that I was having a tough time last week she sent me a surprise package. Surprise (real) mail is always super cool, but a surprise package had me jumping out of my skin! (Again, not literally, because that would be weird.) Inside was this beautiful little lighthouse model.
I was incredibly touched, because I knew exactly the message she was sending me. Lighthouses are really cool and fascinating things. They are beautiful buildings, always planted in dramatic, but incredibly harsh, landscapes. When I ran the Newport Marathon in Oregon in 2012 it started at the base of this beautiful lighthouse.
Usually the tours there are self guided, but we happened to be there at a time when a supervisor was there to train volunteers and she gave us a guided tour. She told us a lot about the family that lived there and the incredible trials that they faced. I cannot vouch for complete accuracy, it’s been over two years since I heard all this. Although the city of Newport has built up around the home, when the lighthouse was built it was fairly isolated above a very windy stretch of beach. The man who ran the lighthouse was basically being demoted when he was sent there I think because he had a tendency to drink. The home, since it was technically military property, had to be prepared for surprise inspection at any moment. If you’ve ever sold a home you know how difficult it can be to keep a home show ready at all times. The woman who lived there had a bunch of children, soot from the lighthouse flames and the kitchen stove constantly in the air and sand and dirt from all the wind everywhere. She had to white wash the walls constantly to maintain the standards required. Her husband was technically the one who had to maintain the lighthouse light and be on duty all night, every night, but she often had to help or take over when he was indisposed. It was a hard life.
As we assembled our little model lighthouse I thought of that woman. (Okay, Vaughn did most of it, it took patience and attention to detail which aren’t my strong points.)
Again, lighthouses are placed in harsh landscapes because they are a guidance tool. You don’t need guidance where things are easy! Lighthouses are beautiful in the daytime, but their job is to be a light surrounded by darkness. The worse the weather gets and the darker the night gets the more important their light is.
We all have the ability to be lighthouses. Although it’s fun to look and admire our testimonies when it’s daytime and things are easy, just as lighthouses are gorgeous to look at, it is when it is dark that our real work begins. We are placed in harsh landscapes because that’s where light is most needed. We are often isolated, but we cannot lose sight of who we are. When we look around and all we see is darkness we can forget that we have the ability and duty to shine. We are children of our Heavenly Father and we need to maintain His standards at all times. We constantly need to repent and whitewash our walls as soot and dirt from our living conditions mar them. We can’t always see in the darkness who is looking toward our light, but the light we radiate guides countless of our spiritual brothers and sisters to safety.
And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!