Considering that my city, Ottawa, Canada, is hundreds of miles from any ocean and far from the Great Lakes, you might be surprised to find a lighthouse there.
But with its cast-iron tower and coal-oil lamp, it was moved from Cape Race, Newfoundland, to Ottawa, and it stands outside the Museum of Science and Technology.
Like this lighthouse now located in Ottawa, many lighthouses have outlived their usefulness, since today ships rely more on satellites and radar to navigate.
But remaining lighthouses, most of which are now unmanned, still mark some coastlines and dangerous places where ships could be grounded. Some still help guide ships into harbors.
The history of lighthouses is interesting, and they're fun to visit, and they teach some spiritual lessons.
A lighthouse is constant and dependable and helps people just by being there. In the way you live each day, you, too, can be helpful to others.
An excellent way to be steady and dependable is to base your thoughts and actions on divine Love, God. God is good, loving, and forgiving. He is solid and trustworthy, like a huge, unmovable rock. He is the true parent of everyone.
To stand tall, strong, and bright is to be unaffected by storms, particularly storms in our thoughts. A storm might take the form of your not doing well on a test at school. In that case, to be strong would be to know that God gives you the courage and the intelligence to do better on the next test. Or a storm might be when somebody says something unkind to you. In that case, to be strong would be to forgive the person who said the bad thing.
A lighthouse freely sends out its light to all. It doesn't play favorites by helping just some ships. In the same way, we can be open to helping everyone we meet.
Kind deeds come in many shapes and sizes. If you're playing tennis and the balls from the next court keep coming into yours, you can return them patiently to the neighboring players. If you know people who aren't able to leave their home very often, you can visit them.
Jesus is the best example I know of someone who was a constant light to everyone he met. The first four books - the Gospels - of the New Testament in the Bible, show how he was always ready to help others.
His love for everyone was faithful and pure. It didn't depend on others to do something to deserve that love or on their recognizing or returning that love.
Once Jesus helped a man named Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector and often took more money from people than was right. He wanted to see Jesus, but Zacchaeus was short, and a lot of people were around, so he ran ahead and climbed a tree in order to be able to see Jesus.
When he arrived, Jesus saw him in the tree and spoke to him. Though Zacchaeus was known to be dishonest, Jesus made friends with him, went to his house, and helped him change and become a good and fair person. Jesus' love for this man was shining.
Once Jesus said: "You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16, Contemporary English Version).
Whatever talents, gifts, and creative ideas you have, there is an unlimited number of ways to let your light shine. So go ahead, be a lighthouse. You might be the bright light that others need to see through darkness and find their way home to good.