Of Lifeboats and Lighthouses

Christmas Eve. A crisp sunny day in Donaghadee. Chips at the Captain’s Table. A happy toddler by the sea.

A walk along the harbour, out to the lighthouse, looking back at the Balamory coloured houses and the low sun through a misty cloud. The Lifeboat. How to explain a Lifeboat to a toddler. From here? Impossible. Calm (though never complacent), waiting motionless in glassy waters. Observed from the foot of the Lighthouse, safe on dry land.

Donaghadee lifeboatHere, on the cusp of the Feast of Salvation Incarnate, so close to the Light, and in the glow of blinding winter sunshine, we can’t see it… Today Christmas seems a luminous affair, a truly sweet and beautiful story (if you forget the massacre) but hardly Rescue. But my grandfather’s ship was torpedoed in WW2. My great-grandfather, my great-great grandfather, my uncle, my late cousin, fishermen and seafarers… This Lifeboat is for us. The Lighthouse too. For coming to us where we are, and bringing us home.

Where to now wf61? Not sure. Swimming lessons? Lifeguard training? Lifeboat volunteering? Fundraising? Some metaphorical spiritual equivalent? I’ve enjoyed this Advent journey. May tomorrow bring new gifts (even amidst struggle and loss) for us all to share.

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