No one will ever know how many lives have been saved by the many lighthouses that dot the dangerous coastal waters of this world. Yet today, most of these towers stand dark and uninhabited, victims of progress. Sensitive sounding devices have taken over the function of these sentinels in warning ships off the shoals.
It cannot be denied that such modern instruments are an improvement. They “see” danger ahead, even in fog so thick that the most powerful lighthouse beam would not be visible for more than a few hundred feet. Yet even people who have never viewed an actual lighthouse seem to be saddened by the closing of this romantic chapter in the history of the men who go down to the sea in ships.
The main reason for this regret is easy to understand. It is the passing of the human element in this story of man’s struggle against the forces of nature. The lighthouse keeper was a legend – and with good reason. Now buried in the yellowing files of old newspapers are many accounts of heroism on the part of these men who put duty before personal safety, often at the cost of their own lives.
A machine can do its “duty”, of course, but it is only man who possesses the divine spark which carries him to heights “above and beyond” the call of duty. And those who occupied these lonely outposts had to have this quality in full measure. Theirs was not only a dangerous life, but a lonely one, unrewarding in material comforts.
Today it may seem trivial to give even passing thought to something which has outlived its usefulness. But the lighthouse was much more than just a pile of mortar and brick. It was a beacon which radiated the love of man for God – through his love and concern for his fellow man.