Many years ago there was a little village on a rocky seacoast, where storms often battered and seas were ever treacherous. Many ships were driven onto the rocks by the storms, and the lives of many sailors were lost because of the raging seas.
One day the people decided among themselves that they should establish a lighthouse and life-saving station on a little peninsula on the coast, to warn ships away from the rocks and to save the lives of those who were cast into the icy waters. They approached the government and began to secure the necessary funds for their project. Soon they set forth and built a tower, and set a beacon in it; they organized a lookout system; and they bought boats and learned how to man them; and soon they were in business. The business of saving lives!
Soon the effects of what they were doing became known far and wide. Fewer ships went on the rocks; and when such a tragedy did occur, and the alarm was sounded, the people risked their own lives to rescue those who had been cast into the raging, icy waters. Within a few short years, people came from great distance to study their lighthouse, and to use it as a model.
One day someone suggested that, since they all spent so much time at the lighthouse that they should gather there occasionally and enjoy good fellowship. And soon they began to get together (at first infrequently, and then more often) at the lighthouse. In fact, many people began to build their homes near the lighthouse. Then when the lookout sounded the alarm, they were there, ready to go out.
Next, it was decided that if they were going to spend so much time there, they must make the place more comfortable. So arrangements were made to heat the lighthouse. The gray walls were painted a brilliant white. Some of the walls were paneled; rugs were put on the floors to disguise the bare concrete; a fine kitchen was installed with a handsome stove; and generally speaking the lighthouse became a nice place to spend your time waiting for the alarm to be sounded. Everything about the lighthouse was made comfortable and nice. The lighthouse soon became the center of life in the little town that grew up around it.
One night a fierce storm blew in, as storms had blown in for years. Many ships were tossed on the jagged rocks, and the men at the lighthouse spent long hours picking sailors from the bitter cold icy waters and taking them to the lighthouse, where they were fed and provided with dry clothing. This had happened many times over the years, but this time, after the storm subsided and the sailors had all left the lighthouse, there were some men who were angry. It seems the storm had made them leave the comfort of the lighthouse, and go out into the wet, dangerous seas; and they got cold; very cold. The sailors, when they were delivered to the lighthouse, soiled the carpets. The kitchen was a mess, not to mention the stove. After a brief meeting it was first decided that sailors, when they were brought to the lighthouse, should be taken to the basement, not to the nice upper areas.
Some time later, another storm blew in; and about one half of the men went out in the boats, and again picked sailors from the frigid waters. This time the ship, which had broken apart on the rocks, was from another nation; and the men who manned her spoke another language, and even worse were of a different color. After this storm, a few more men joined those who refused to enter the sea. They decided that men like these did not belong in the lighthouse at all; some said they felt that the lighthouses’ job was not supposed to be saving sailors from other lands, because they were so much different. There were those, too, who objected to leaving the comfort of the lighthouse to go out into the storm. These men petitioned the government and they also agreed. So, finally, it was decided that the beacon would be kept lit, but the rescue work would be discontinued.
A small group disagreed, however, and went down the coast, a short distance, and started a new lighthouse. This small group decided that they should establish the biggest life-saving station on the little peninsula, and so they did. Every day they warned ships and sometimes attempted to save lives from the icy water. Fame of the new lighthouse grew and the lighthouse back up the bay eventually turned out its beacon. Some people say the beacon can still be seen today in you and I. Oh yes, they also say the small group running the new lighthouse were those once rescued from the raging seas.
We as people all have a choice to make with regards to our rescue work. We can choose to allow our lives to become comfortable and we can find ourselves very content. And often times we may find that we have turned out our beacon of hope for one another. Or perhaps, I hope and pray that we find ourselves lighting and saving the path of others both in our words and deeds.
-Ernest W. Corty