No boats arrived last night.
This is a very good thing because of the cold weather and very rough seas. Any boat trying to get over probably would not have made it.
However, boat or no boat, life at the lighthouse night shift is the same every day as it has been since this site was organized in response to the thousands of refugees washing ashore after the five mile journey from Turkey. The reason the lighthouse site was founded, and its primary mission, is to spot boats in the Aegean Sea early enough to call in the coast guard and divert the boat to a safer landing area. Many boats are understandably drawn to the bright lights of the lighthouse, not recognizing that they stand as warning. Instead they are lured by the light, but if they get to the lighthouse they find a rocky, treacherous landing awaits. So we are divided into three watches. There are two to three of us on each watch. The rest of the team attempts to sleep on tents along the back of the lighthouse while one team watches the water using regular and night vision binoculars. If a boat is spotted, everyone is awakened and immediately follows a set protocol. This happened only once for us around 1:30 in the morning, but it turned out to be a false alarm.
As we watch and wait, we have come to know these beautiful people who lead us, people like Jade, who told me as we stood on the hillside far above the lighthouse looking out on the sea, “Do you know that all of this, all that is happening on this island is the result of volunteers? When I grew up I had a negative view of humanity. No more. You always hear how many died. But what about all who lived, and that was all because people, just regular people like you and me, we decided to come. It’s so beautiful. It’s so wonderful.”
Thanks for the ongoing prayers for the refugees and this sea of volunteers working to insure their safety. We were told yesterday these are not so much volunteers as those who stand in solidarity with fellow human beings. It is an accurate reflection of the spirit of those we have met and certainly our spirit as well. We stand with them because we believe Christ’s call to love all knows no boundaries.
Unfortunately, as you can see, many boats do attempt to land here. Some have died.
Many more have lived.
Thanks be to God for all who have answered the call to love neighbor as they love thenselves. When that happens beauty and wonder are brought forth and impact the world. We are seeing that on this tiny island and glad to play a small part in this miracle of grace.
Photos – Jade, above, making a potent Greek coffee, a light in the small lighthouse room where the fire and coffee keep shifts warm. Photos of beach after sunrise and the life vests and boats left behind from crossings and rescues.
Below – Harding keeping watch at sunrise. The light shines in the darkness.