Once upon a time, many moons ago, when the earth was young, a lighthouse rose tall and strong near cliffs surrounded by rocks. The rocks were large and sharp as jagged teeth. They guarded a narrow channel through choppy and dangerous waters. But beyond the channel, on the far horizon, was an eternal city, high on a hill, its pointed towers gleaming gold in the darkness. You could only see it at night. People had tried for many years to reach the city but no one had succeeded. The way was hard and the journey long and although the lighthouse was tall and cast its strong, yellow light far and wide, it wasn’t close enough to find the way. Many lives had been lost and the people had given up hope of ever reaching the eternal city.
One evening the lighthouse looked down and saw little boats bobbing on the water. He saw the people in the boats and their eager faces. He saw the longing in their eyes. So he made a plan.
“My light is too high up to help these people,” he said, “I will get me a lighthouse keeper.”
So he sent word across the country and pinned a notice to the light door – Keepers needed to spread the light. Adventurous work. Lightweights need not apply.
When they came, striding across the land with steady steps, the lighthouse studied them carefully. He took his time and finally decided on one – the smallest and slightest of them all. The other applicants were surprised, but the lighthouse was content. He knew this man would be able to squeeze between the rocks with his lantern. He would do the job.
So the keeper took up his place near the rocks at the foot of the cliffs. The people were amazed. They could see the way past the rocks through the narrow channel. The keeper swung his huge lamp across the water and the people moved past in their little boats. The waters rose and the waves crashed but they followed the light towards the eternal city. There was nothing to fear.
“Thank you,” they shouted to the keeper as they rowed past, “Thank you for the light to find our way.”
But in time, the people grew reckless and proud. They forgot about the lighthouse and its keeper. They took for granted the low, rich light and its keen gaze towards the city on a hill.
The lighthouse grew sad. It spread its yellow light afar while the keeper swung his lantern near, but the people did not heed the lights. They became careless and drew perilously closer to the dangers at the mouth of the channel.
“These people do not think they need us,” said the lighthouse to the keeper, “But without us, they will make mistakes and dash themselves to bits on the rocks.”
The keeper agreed.
“There is only one way,” he told the lighthouse. The lighthouse listened and grew sad. But he knew the truth of the keeper’s words.
That evening, as darkness fell, the keeper made his way down the narrow stairs to the foot of the cliffs. He clambered across the rocks with the lantern on his back. The light burned bold on his shoulders and the heat marked his skin. He lay down on the jagged rocks and lifted his lantern as the waves grew high. Above him, in the eye of the master light, if you had looked closely, you would have seen a single tear.
That night for the first time in the history of the lighthouse, the light went out. The keeper’s blood was shed. It seeped across the jagged rocks and onto the sand. It stained the waters red. Then, with a low rumble, the water swirled and the rocks bowed low beneath the sea. The people were amazed. There were no more rocks. There were no more dangerous waters. The channel had become a harbour, a safe place for all.
From that day to this, people have told their children about the loving lighthouse and his brave keeper; how anyone can now find their way through the waters to the eternal city.
And if you look closely, you will still see the notice on the lighthouse door –
Keepers needed to spread the light. Adventurous work. Lightweights need not apply.