(A circular iron stairway in a lighthouse. Photo © Scott P. Richert)
Having grown up on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, I've always loved lighthouses. But I'm often a little reluctant to climb the stairs up to the light itself. Many lighthouses on the Great Lakes have circular iron stairways that are very steep, very narrow, and have some sort of lattice work in the tread (to keep water off the stairs) that lets you see easily all the way to the bottom. Since I'm a bit afraid of heights, lighthouse stairs are not exactly my cup of tea.
But when I get the opportunity to climb a lighthouse, I do it. My love of lighthouses outweighs my fear, and I force myself to the top. In the end, the view is always worth it.
Our spiritual journey through the liturgical year is a lot like those lighthouse stairs. Sometimes we may wonder why we have to go through the discipline of Lent every year. Wasn't once enough? But as every year circles back around, we try to move a little further forward, onward and upward, toward our ultimate goal.
The way is narrow, often steep, and sometimes even a bit frightening, but the view from the top of any lighthouse pales in comparison with the reward that awaits us at the top of our stairway to Heaven.