Located on a small rock island off Cape Ann on the Massachusetts coast in the USA are these two lighthouses known as the Thacher Island Twin Lights. The original towers built in 1771 were made out of wood. These were replaced with the present 124-foot tall granite ones in 1861. The Thacher Island Lights are the tallest lighthouses in the state of Massachusetts.
An amazing story that dates back to 1864 is told about these two lighthouses. It involves Alexander Bray, a Civil War veteran who was appointed keeper of the newly constructed towers, and his wife Maria. Both lighthouses required routine maintenance on a daily basis. This was a very arduous task since it required climbing the 150 steps in each tower while carrying containers of oil to replenish the lamps in the lantern rooms. The lights needed to burn continuously and the window panes needed to be kept soot free.
Alexander had two assistant keepers. On December 21, 1864, one of them got very ill and needed to be taken to the mainland for medical attention. He and his second assistant sailed a mile across the bay with the ailing man in hopes to get him to a doctor and quickly make it back home that same day. Alexander had no choice but to leave Maria in charge of the lighthouses while he was away. Once the men got to the mainland they were able to get the necessary help in a short amount of time. But just as they were getting ready to head back to the island, a slow but steady moving snowstorm had caught up with them. Not wanting to put himself and his other worker at risk, Alexander decided to wait a couple of hours, but the storm only increased in intensity and they were unable to leave as planned. In fact, they were forced to stay on the mainland for another two days. Alexander’s heart grew weary knowing that Maria would have to take over the strenuous job of keeping both lights burning.
With the help of her 12-year-old nephew, Maria braved the wintery conditions to take care of the lighthouses. First, she would have to carry fuel up 150 stairs to the lantern room of the first tower, trim the lantern wick and clean the window panes. Then she would have to descend the same amount of stairs and battle through waist-high snow drifts and bitter winds to reach the second tower which was 900 ft. away! In addition, she had to monitor the engine rooms which contained the fog signals. Oh, did I mention that she had to do this three times a day while her husband was away? But for Maria, it was more than just lending a helping hand. It was about saving the lives of mariners, including her husband’s, who depended on the lighthouses especially during stormy days like this one.
Finally, three days later (Christmas Eve) the winds subsided and Alexander was able to set sail. Visibility was still not good, but he was able to use the glowing lights from the towers to guide him safely home. Maria’s resilience and genuine love for people allowed her to stand in the gap and help out when she was needed the most. Because of her commitment to keeping the lights burning during the storm, there were no marine casualties.
In my devotion titled, Keeper of The Light, I explain how the Holy Spirit is the One who maintains our spiritual lighthouse. Nevertheless, it is also He who, from time to time, provides other keepers to help us when the storms of life are seemingly unbearable. These keepers are the people who stand in the gap for us when we are faint of heart. They are the ones who pray for, encourage, and help us in practical ways so that our light does not fade away. As lighthouses for God, we all need a Maria in our lives. Someone who will do whatever they can to see that we don’t lose hope when all seems hopeless. Someone who will not just say that they will pray for us, but who will make the time to pick up the phone or pay us a visit to actually pray with us. That someone would also do more than just pray. They would be a physical extension of Jesus’ hands and feet.
I have a Maria in my life. Her name is actually Amparo, which means protection in Spanish. She is my mom. Mom’s spiritual help has been crucial in my life, especially during a time when I left my lighthouse unattended. I met the Lord at the age of 13 and faithfully served Him through the ministry of my local church until I graduated from high school. I left home at the age of 17 to go to college and it wasn’t long before I slowly began to drift away from my faith. For the next 8 years that followed my lighthouse had ceased to shine, but my Maria wasted no time and ran to the rescue. Mom’s fervent and faithful prayers to God on my behalf are the reason why I am once again a shining lighthouse for the Lord and am sitting here writing this devotion. Her spiritual insight and words of wisdom have cleared the soot from the window panes of my heart many times. Her commitment to God and His church in spite of her many challenges have taught me to rise above my circumstances and truly live by faith and not by sight. Thank you, mom, for being my Maria.
Because we will all need a Maria in our lives we need to pursue, establish and maintain genuine and trusting relationships with other spiritually mature Christians. And we need to pray not only for God to send us a Maria but to become a Maria ourselves to other lighthouses (believers).
Prayer: Thank you Holy Spirit for being the keeper of my light. And thank you for those who have been there for me when I have needed them the most. Help me to stand in the gap for those who may be facing storms in their lives so that together we may continue to shine your light in a dark and lost world. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” -James 5:16
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak and not to please ourselves.” -Romans 15:1 (BLB)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.