This weekend was the annual Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey, a two-day celebration of shoreline sentinels during which every working lighthouse is open and staffed by volunteers. The truly committed drive hundreds of miles over the two days to visit the eleven lighthouses open to the public. Because of a scouting weekend for Theo, we just hit one on Saturday and three on Sunday. But these are the last four for our lighthouse-obsessed son Francis, who has been to the others over the course of the summer.
Tinicum Rear Range Light
The family looking off in different directions, of course
Francis goes full nerd talking about construction dates with the lighthouse volunteers.
The Tinicum light is closed because of some structural bowing.
The lighthouse is right in the middle of a bunch of ball fields. A neighbor has a great snow cone stand, a tradition in the town going back to his childhood at least.
The area where the Tinicum Front Range light used to be is now a sliver pocket park along the waterside. Pretty except surrounded by refineries.
Francis at Tinicum Rear Range
Sea Girt Lighthouse
The Sea Girt Lighthouses is house with a light on top.
The residence of the Sea Girt Light is incredibly homey and cute.
Climbing down from the light.
The lights of the Sea Girt light
Francis lectures on the fresnel lens.
Models of NJ’s lighthouse laid out on a map of the state.
Twin Lights of Navesink
Some family (Gregory is behind Julie here)
The giant 10 ton former lens.
Sign for the lens.
Beautiful workmanship on the bilding
Detail from light well
Looking through the window of the south toward toward the north
View from atop the light
Grill metalwork of the cage of the Twin Lights
Theo looking less wise-guy than normal.
Gregory tries the lock to the top of the south tower
The Twin Lights of Navesink are up a high hill, part of the Palisades perhaps, giving our kids a rare hill to roll down.
Francis looks out over the hill top.
The Twin Lights of Navesink
Sandy Hook Light
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is on a former base.
The lighthouse house houses the museum.
The Sandy Hook is the oldest continuous light in the country, predating the country itself.
The original lighthouse was just the outer mortar. Later brick helped shore it up
Details of bricks
The setting sun coming into the Sandy Hook Light
Detail of stairwell.
Francis looks across the view
Two 1000 watt bulbs shine out over 19 miles because of the fresnel lens.
There’s a lot of cool old structures up on Sandy Hook.
Gregory unsuccessfully tries the heavy door.
Sandy Hook has pretty dunes
NYC skyline from an observation deck on Sandy Hook.
Sun setting, Gregory makes a mini sandcastle before we leave North Jersey.
The biggest changes in half a decade are coming to QuakerQuaker. The Ning.com service that powers the main website is about to increase its monthly charge by 140 percent. When I first picked Ning to host the three-year-old QuakerQuaker project in 2008, it seemed like a smart move. Ning had recently been founded by tech world rock stars with access to stratospheric-level funds. But it never quite got traction and started dialing back its ambitions in 2010. It was sold and sold again and a long-announced new version never materialized. I've been warning people against starting new projects on it for years. Its limitations have become clearer with every passing year. But it's continued to work and a healthy community has kept the content on QuakerQuaker interesting. But I don't get enough donations to cover a 140 percent increase, and even if I did it's not worth it for a service stuck in 2010. It's time to evolve!
There are many interesting things I could build with a modern web platform. Initial research and some feedback from fellow Quaker techies has me interested in BuddyPress, an expanded and social version of the ubiquitous WordPress blogging system. It has plugins available that claim to move content from existing Ning sites to BuddyPress, leaving the tantalizing possibility that eight years of the online Quaker conversation can be maintained (wow!).
I will need funds for the move. The subscriptions to do the import/export will incur costs and there will be plugins and themes to buy. I'm mentally budgeting an open-ended number of late Saturday nights. And the personal computer we have is getting old. The charge doesn't hold and keys are starting to go. It will need replacement sooner rather than later.
Any donations Friends could make to the Paypal account would be very helpful for the move. You can start by going to http://bit.ly/quakergive. Other options are available on the donation page at http://www.quakerquaker.org/page/support. Thanks for whatever you can spare. I'm as surprised as anyone that this little DIY project continues to host some many interesting Quaker conversations eleven years on!
Most Saturday nights find me following my wife to St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Millville NJ. I'm often chasing kids and this Saturday was no exception. Tonight I snapped as I chased. Most of these shots have a tousled head just off camera. It's a nice little church. You can learn more at their website at http://www.stnicholasmillville.com.
This weekend was the long-prepared New Monastics and Convergent Friends weekend at Pendle Hill, co-led by myself and Wess Daniels, with very helpful eldership from Ashley W. As I posted afterwards on Facebook, “I feel we served the Lord faithfully, navigating the hopes and fears of the members of the church who gathered into this short-lived community. Not the conversation we expected, but the conversation we were given, which is enough (always) and for which we feel gratitude.”
Wess and I have often described Convergent Friends as a do-it-yourself culture. But this weekend I realized that there’s something more to it. There’s what you might call a “don’t get stuck” ethos.
On Saturday afternoon, the conversation turned to what our local monthly and yearly meetings aren’t doing well. This is a pretty standard phase of any Quaker gathering thinking about renewal. We had asked for “signs of life” and “what does New Monasticism and Convergent Friends look like at meetings” but this quickly became talk of spiritual sickness and meetings that seemingly want to die. Fine enough, these exist and a half-session feeling sorry for ourselves might be cathartic, but I’m not sure the workshop ever fully got out of this funk. Pendle Hill was also hosting a “Grieving” workshop this weekend and I wanted to ask if all of the participants were sure they were in the right building.
Part of the shift of that amorphous group we’ve been calling “Convergent” is not getting stuck. We use the official structures when they’re in place and healthy and helpful. When they’re not we find informal ways to fill in the gaps. This has been happening for a long time in quasi-official networks, but the internet’s accelerated the process by letting us find and communicate with minimal cost or organization. Most of us are working official and ad hoc techniques for spiritual nurture, oversight and pastoral care.
My guess is that this informal bootstrapping will feed back into formal process as time goes on. But more importantly, we’re learning and spreading a culture of spiritual friendship and support that is flexible and spirit-led and not process-dependent. Praise God!