The Empty Lighthouse


Seven years ago I had a startling dream that I woke up from and have never forgotten.

I would not presume to bore you with the first 5/6th of the dream for those details are only relevant to me and what delivered me to these moments in less than a dainty fashion (as the dream indicated they would…there was, ahem…gunfire and a lot of running).

But towards the end, I spilled into this old lighthouse on the rocky shoals of the Pacific and it was deserted  with some overturned pews and a large fireplace. Some of the pews were broken into pieces and I used the wood to build a fire in the large stone hearth inset in the long sloping plaster wall. It was darkening outside and there was menace in the foothills both now and in the days to come. But it was temporary safe inside.

The fire grew, illuminating the large empty room, and it began to take the chill out of the air. I could see there were wooden cabinets now along the walls with small locks. I tried one for the heck of it and it simply opened. Inside, I found long glass prayer candles and a large box of strike-easy matches. That was helpful as my lghter was of no real use with the long glass candles.

I lighted one, slipped three into my bag, and headed to the spiral stairs. Then I paused – went back to the cabinet and carefully took out three candles each – nine in all – and lighted them around the rest of the perimeter wall.  Only then did I ascend the steel staircase carefully holding a single glass candle.

I had no real idea what I was doing or why. It was a dream and I knew it was a dream – yet the menace and danger felt very real. I had felt those bullets whiz over my head as I ran and when I had hit the sand and lay low I had felt the earth shudder near me as it sheathed the leadened death. Someone did not want me to reach the lighthouse, but I had against considerable odds.

stock-photo-93921233At the top, I found the clam-shaped encasement and undid the glass housing. I took out the three candles I had bagged and lighted all three and placed them in the carousel and secured the clasp. Then I took my candle and looked for a switch. That was easy enough – could have found it in the dark. I supposed that was on purpose.

Near-silently, the whole housing began to revolve – concentrating the three tiny flickers from the glass candles into a remarkably (it seemed to me) strong beam of light. I mean, it could not have alerted any ship of course – but any person within a mile or two might see a small glimmer for a second or so – and then again and again as it revolved.

How did I know I would not be followed in? I just knew. I also knew – perhaps it was the pews that gave it away – that this represented the Church. It was Holy Ground even if it had been abandoned and the pews over-turned.

Suddenly I was back downstairs, sitting in a pew by the fire. I took my pipe out of my bag and lighted it. The fire felt good. I prayed, then laid-out on the hard pew to sleep.

In my dream I actually remembered the words of T.S. Eliot:

The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned, what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?

More tomorrow.




What are Believers to do when Trumped? One Man’s Answer.


The day after America’s most contentious election left many Believers in dismay – not so much that Hillary Clinton did not win (as many of us found her a non-option in the final analysis) but because so many fellow Christians – particularly white protestant males – came out in droves to vote and support Donald Trump.

My girlfriend, a conservative Republican woke up and said she felt like she wanted to die – she felt sick all day just thinking of Trump in office. This is a pervasive feeling across the country by a large number of Believers while others seem blissfully – even haughtily triumphant about Trump being “God’s pick.”

I found one man, via Facebook (and friend Aaron Smith) who really says everything and more that I want to say. So I am just going to let new friend John Joseph Thompson say it!

“Searching for meaning through the tears. All I have is that sometimes the mask has to be pulled off in order to see the monster beneath. The monster is not Trump. He is just the tiny orange boat riding massive waves of fear, anger, and ignorance. He is the evidence of misplaced bitterness. He is the thug hired to forestall the decay of white privilege. He is the surface blemish that grows over a massive internal tumor. He is not the monster. The monster is the human heart driven by these dark things.

The deepest heartbreak for me is the evidence that so many people who declare that their love for Jesus led them to support the worst candidate for President in my lifetime; a man completely at odds with the Gospel. I hurt for my friends of color as their nation lurches backwards. Please know that more than half of the people in this country did not support this and will not support this and many who voted for him are actually voting against his opponent and not in support of him. The democrats ran a fatally flawed candidate and failed to understand the scope of frustration out there. Please do not read these results as a referendum on your value.

I hurt for the hopeful young people who are trying to make sense of this result as they come to grips with it. Don’t let cynicism harden your heart. We need your passion and energy. I hurt for the immigrants among us who fear for their lives. I hurt for the children who are watching – either fearful and confused about why bad people win, or who gleefully cheer for the same thing as the adults around them celebrate.

Lots of pain and fear out there and we can only combat it on a personal, local level.

Lots of lessons to be learned here, but for now I pray for God’s peace to cover all of us, and for God’s spirit to motivate those who are called by His name to redouble their commitment to love. This campaign offers no answers. The Gospel does. We are truly strangers in a very strange land. Regardless of whomever just purchased the White House, our hope must be somewhere else and there is a lot of work to be done.

We are told that the world will know that we are Jesus people by the love we have for each other – even for those who enabled this disaster. It’s time for that love to be seen. It’s time for that love to move us to live lives that illustrate the difference between the Gospel and empty religion; between grace and power. The mask has been removed and we have to try to love the ugly face beneath, because it is us. If God can find a way to love us – even as we sin against him – then we can do no less.”

““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:43-48‬ ‭NIV‬‬”

Thank you John!