Chang Moo Kwan: The Source

Angel's Gate Lighthouse

Chang Moo Kwan Events

San Pedro In Photos

Chang Moo Kwan Events

San Pedro In Photos


The Angel's Gate Lighthouse shines on like an old friend...


I see the Angel's Gate Lighthouse every day of my life several times each day.  I just walk out to my balcony and there is my old friend.  I have seen the Angeles Gate lighthouse piercing the fog, draped in rain, enshrouded in sunbeams, drenched in a fiery sunrise, and enshrined in a rainbow.  I have kayak passed the Angel's Gate Lighthouse, sailed past it, cruised past it, and maybe I will swim past it one day.  I have seen it contrasted in front of every possible ship: Queen Elizabeth II, The Lane Victory, The USS Abraham Lincoln, The Black Ship from Pirates of the Caribbean, and every type of container, car carrier, cruise ship and oil tanker; they pass, and my old friend stands watch.


Not to confuse Angel's Gate lighthouse with an indifferent attitude, nothing could be more untrue, for it leans like an old boxer from the scars of several severe storms which threatened to rock it from its foundations to no avail.  Life and humanity pass by intimately; Angel's Gate is one with the ocean and only connected to the mainland by a mile long breakwater built in its honor.  This breakwater is the only thing keeping the bustling Los Angeles Harbor and Terminal Island from being reclaimed by marshlands.


The Angel's Gate Lighthouse does not have the stately elegance of the Point Fermin Lighthouse nor its surrounding park; nor does it have the symmetrical conformity and photogenic bluff of the San Vicente Lighthouse.  It actually sits out in the middle of the mouth of the Los Angeles Harbor San Pedro entrance with a noticeable lean and evidence of corrosion.   It is the "blue collar" lighthouse, and a symbol of the grit and sweat and simplicity which built San Pedro and if it needs anything-and it certainly does not-it could use the tattoo of an anchor on its arms, you know the ones you can't see that say welcome and stretch out to all Pacific travelers who pass by.  Jokingly, for those who know San Pedro, the water tower on top of Warehouse Number One with "Welcome" written in several languages must be "concerned" some of its impact is lessened by the unwritten, unspoken tidings of Angel's Gate.  When the vague details of our coastline become

defined by inbound ships, I imagine the Angel Gate Lighthouse stands out.  After hours, days, and weeks at sea, it has become a symbol of safety.  Beyond and inward is safety, behind you uncertainty.


The Angel's Gate Lighthouse is built on and Octagonal base.  This, I have always found cool.  We often think of both opportunity and danger prevailing from or future, or in front of us, and occasionally from the sides and behind...

certainly danger.  "Side swiped, stabbed in the back, blind-sided, are all

phrases we grew up with.  I wear a Pa Qua around my neck and have for forty

years.  It is the eight-sided octagon generally associated with "I-Ching and

Taoism.  I present each one of my Martial Arts students with a Pa Qua of jade

when they reach black-belt.  I explain to each carefully the meaning in regards first to physical offense and defense, but then to life... opportunity and danger.  "Pay mind to not only the conventional North and South but East and West...your sides.  Then also be aware of Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, and Southeast.  These are the directions generally unclear.  Both danger and opportunity are found in these directions."  I have often taught my students to"seek the truth not in night and day but dawn and dusk." 

Maybe this is why look I at the Angel's Gate Lighthouse every morning when I wake up and every night before I sleep.  Its foundation is a shape which I strive to define myself by.


It is much harder to get "up close and personal" to the Angel's Gate Lighthouse.  You can walk there via the San Pedro Breakwater.  San Pedro lore and urban legends implies if you do this and are not arrested, swept to your death by a rogue wave, or simply give up when you find it is not your typical nature trail you can say you are from San Pedro...even if you were not born here.  You can boat there, but there is no safe docking.  I think somehow touching Angel's Gate would take away from, not add to, "me."  Its physical inapproachability and spiritual connectedness is a symbol to me perfection is a pathway and not a destination.

All photos and narrative are by Jon Wiedenman, MA Ed
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