I miss New England lighthouses. There’s something eerily beautiful and quieting about walking up large, damp rocks... feeling the constant mist of ocean sprays in the humid air... taking in the slightly offensive, yet nostalgic, seaweed odor... wearing your favorite hoodie. Soon enough, you look up to find yourself standing before a tall, cylindrical-cone-like structure. It seems simultaneously smaller than you’d expected and larger than life. For me, the latter has always been the truest part about the experience. If you could stand there and allow your mind to drift through old stories of the voyages that ended near such shores, I doubt you could resist wondering about of the many lives that found refuge from terrific wrecks, thanks to the keepers of the lighthouse.
Several years back, at a Young Adult Ministry Retreat, my husband read to the attendees “The Parable of the Life-Saving Station.” Though the author is unknown, the lesson may be familiar to some. In The Parable, the writer recounts the story of a lighthouse, which, due to the expertise of the keepers on that dangerous coastline, became famous. Being associated with the structure and its workers was soon a coveted position, so folks did just that. They lingered, pouring money into making the life-saving station more comfortable... luxurious, even. Soon the atmosphere of the lighthouse, which had once been a welcoming one for the distraught wayfarer, was no longer fit for the likes. This new order of business was no longer conducive to the hard, missional work of saving lives. In order to be sure that folks could clean up before entering the station (now club), an outdoor shower was built.
Before long, even the outdoor shower solution had worn on the majority of the members, and dissenters of the exclusive clubs were encouraged to build elsewhere down the coast. The new life-saving station soon met similar challenges, resulting in further annexations, and the coastline in the story eventually became dotted with exclusive clubs. While the shipwrecks didn’t stop, life-saving had.
Saint Constantine is sort-of like a lighthouse. Over the past eight years, families have joined the community to find something that can, in a sense, be described as life-giving (even life-saving, for some). My family joined the TSCS community just over a year ago. Prior to being here, we’d been homeschooling. Ten years in and we were ready to introduce something new. Saint Constantine was a big “new” for us. I could say we were saved from some things... namely shooing our eldest, Chris, off to community college for whatever classes he could handle so that I could get a little relief. Looking back, that would’ve been an awful way, and reason, to age out of high school. It’s an understatement to say that I’m grateful to have been introduced to The School by my dear friend, Liz.
Lately I find myself having some real “lighthouse vs. clubhouse" moments in my mind. Chris gets just two years as a Golden Eagle Scholar (feel free to use that one). God-willing, my second-born, Jaquel, gets four; Garrett gets seven; Benny gets ten; and my little Hunter gets a whopping thirteen (that is, unless any of them decide to go for “Double Gold”). Just the same, I’m sure the lighthouse in the story served its mission for different folks with different needs – some needing longer stays than others. Either way, while the keepers keep on, the wayfarers must leave at some point.
The difference in the Saint Constantine story from that of the Lighthouse is that by design we intentionally produce more lighthouses. Our seniors, thankfully, don’t get to stick around and argue with us about making the proverbial nest more comfortable and suitable for a late check-out. Instead, they go on mission... by God’s grace, being lighthouses in other “highways and byways.” While we continue doing this great work, they begin new great work.
So Chris will soon join that number; and that will be good.
The Houston terrain is considerably flatter than that of New England; but the air here is also humid. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t smell of seaweed; and we’ll eventually get to sweater weather. Maybe. Notwithstanding, we pray that our lighthouses, near and far, continue to be life-saving.