by William Michael
Once upon a time, there was a seaman named Sanctus who maintained a lighthouse. The sea in that place was treacherous and storms were known to rush in quite unseen. The lighthouse, for many centuries, led ships to safety.
However, Sanctus became unhappy with his work and said to his helper, “You know Paulus, I’m just not sure about this lighthouse business. This is a terribly lonely life for me and I just don’t feel like I’m really helping anyone. I mean look out there at the sea. My fellow seamen are out there amidst the storms and waves, while I sit here in safety. I just don’t think that’s what a true seaman would do. I propose that we change the way we do things. Let’s shut down this old lighthouse and buy flashlights with the money we’ll save. Rather than sit here in the tower, we will go out to our brothers at sea and help them in our own way–a more personal way.”
As he spoke, the winds grew fiercer and the rains began–heavy, horizontal rains, followed by hail as lightning thundered about them. Sanctus and Paulus hurried to the cabin and shut themselves in safely out of the wind and rain. The waves crashed against the ship, when Paulus yelled, “Sir! We left the flashlights on deck–they’ll all be ruined!” Sanctus rushed out from the cabin and pulled the box inside. He pulled a light from the box and pressed the switch, and–nothing. He tried another, and another–nothing. “Drats, Paulus, our fashlights have all been ruined by the rain. Let’s get back to shore and get a new supply.”
Suddenly, however, Sanctus gasped. “Paulus, we have moved from shp to ship here at sea, and with the clouds hiding the stars, I cannot tell east from west! Which way to shore, Paulus? I have not sailed in so long that my sense of direction is not what it once was.” “I have no idea, sir! I am no sailor, but a custodian. I have never even been out to sea before.”
The storm grew only more violent as Sanctus wandered at sea, tossed to and fro by every wind and wave. Finally, a gust rushed upon them just as the waves peaked and tipped the ship to its side, cashing into the sea. Sanctus dove from the cabin just before the ship fell, while Paulus was trapped withing. Within minutes the ship was overcome by the waves and began to sink. Sanctus was fighting for his life, while Paulus was lost.
The storm proved to be far greater than Sanctus could have expected, and lasted for two days. The sailor Sanctus had met at sea made it safely to land, following the advice of his master at home. When he arrived ashore he entered a tavern and asked the host, “Where is Sanctus? Has he returned from sea?” “Sanctus?!” the man asked, “Sanctus is never at sea, he keeps the lighthouse and stays here on shore.” “No, sir, I met him at sea two nights past, and he told me that he was no longer keeping the old lighthouse, but had a new plan to help sailors. I’m afraid he may be lost in this terrible storm.”
The host ran to the window and looked, only to find the lighthouse unmanned, as the visitor said. “Well, that’s too bad. I’m not sure what he was thinking.” “How can I enter the tower?” asked the visitor, “I must restore the lighthouse or many will be lost in this terrbile storm!” “Again, that’s none of my business.” said the host, “Sanctus has kept that place by himself for 20 years.”
The visitor left the tavern and ran through the rain to the lighthouse. He found the entrance and, fortunately, it was unlocked. He raced up the stairs and looked out from the tower to find the entire shore shrouded in darkness. He returned to the floor and found the power switch. He flipped the switch and at once the ea was filled with light. He could then see many ships not far from land, but still struggling against the wind.
The ships began to arrive on shore, one-by-one, over the next few days. The survivors credited the foreigner with saving their lives and, when the storm had finally subsided, he was honored by the king for his excellent work when word reached the palace. The king called for a special ceremony to honor Fidelis for his heroic deeds. “Dear friends, old Sanctus foolishly abandoned his post, thinking of himself rather than his fellow seamen who have been led to safety by our great lighthouse for many centuries. Unfortunately, several men, including Sanctus himself, have paid a terrible price for his errors. Today, I appoint Fidelis, who, though he comes to us from a land not familiar to us, has proven to be a most reliable friend to all sailors. He will the new keeper of the lighthhouse in the east for years to come.”
Fidelis was applauded by all, and lived with great honor on all sides of the sea for many years to come. Once again, men from many lands, following many different routes are able to find that great light in the east which leads them to safe haven.