Plum Island Lighthouse, MA, Photo by Diane Mancini
Abner Lowell had a shadow. Everywhere he went and everything he did, his shadow copied. This shadow was not made by the rays of the sun nor from the light of the lighthouse beacon, but was a human shadow – his son Lewis.
Lewis wanted to be just like his father, the lightkeeper of the Plum Island Lighthouses. Appointed by President George Washington, Abner Lowell became the first keeper of the lights in 1790. Two towers were built to warn mariners of the shifting sandbars at the entrance to the Merrimac River, so Abner stayed busy maintaining them both.
Little Lewis followed Abner everywhere and watched everything his father did. Up and down the steps, back and forth between the lighthouses, the father and son were together. Abner explained his chores to Lewis and instructed him about the importance of doing a good job. Lewis saw how carefully his father filled the lamps with oil and how thoroughly he cleaned the windows of the light rooms. He couldn’t wait until he was old to help with the chores. Consequently, Lewis grew up knowing how to be a lightkeeper just like his father.
So it was no surprise that twenty years after Abner took the position, Lewis took his father’s place as lightkeeper of the Plum Island Lights. And when his son Joseph came along, he too, followed his father around and learned how to be a lightkeeper. When Lewis died in 1820, his son also became the lightkeeper at Plum Island and served in that position for fourteen years. Thus three generations of Lowells served 47 years as keepers of the lights.
Like many who have chosen the same career as their father, the Lowells learned by watching their father, listening to him and following his instructions. To be like their Father, they had to know their Father – what he did, how he did it, and why it was important. They also knew the consequences if they failed to carry out their father’s will because the efficiency of the lighthouse meant life or death to mariners.
In the same way, we have a heavenly Father who desires that we be like Him. But to be like Him, we have to know him. And to know Him, we have to spend time with Him.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21