Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

This was the reflection picture for my EFM class tonight. I've seen this photo many times in many venues.

Many of you know already that roughly only 10% of an iceberg is above the ocean surface, and 90% is below. What is hard in this picture is to "get beyond the obvious." I think for many, if not most of us, the inital reaction when we see this picture is to see all that dark water and that huge unexposed part of the 'berg, and immediately go to dark scary places. We are drawn to that dark, frozen water and the hidden dangers of that massive block of ice below the surface, and suddenly find ourselves stuck on "all the dark hidden parts of ourselves"--our shame and doubt, our regrets and fears--all the things we hope no one ever knows.

In short, we see Leviathan.

Well...the more I looked at that picture, the more I tried to step back from it and see it another way.

You know, an iceberg is not a "static" thing. It's dynamic. For one thing, it's constantly melting. Ok, in the North Atlantic, that would be um...SLOWLY melting, but it's still melting. But icebergs follow the currents. The current might take it to a warmer place, where it will melt faster.

Someone else in the group pointed out that the iceberg is also affected by things beyond its control, like the sun. The sun melts the top of it. I got to thinking how as the top melts, that iceberg has to shift or roll to some degree, and then a DIFFERENT part of the iceberg is exposed. It means that sooner or later, some of that stuff under the scary, dark, cold water is going to have to float to the surface, and the sun is going to beat down on it, and eventually melt it.

In that sense, that massive block of ice beneath the surface isn't quite so scary. In a way, what's below the water actually BALANCES the iceberg and exposes the top. The natural course of events is for that big ol' 'berg to roll, and expose something new that is "ready to be melted." Exposing these hidden surfaces is not something to be feared, but welcomed, as something once hidden and dangerous can now melt away. Then the iceberg rolls again, and this process keeps continuing until it is totally melted. Another thing the sun does is cause heat to collect in a fissure on the surface and, with a loud crack, split a large chunk off of it. Again, the end result is for it to melt more quickly.

In another sense, let's back up and think about the iceberg in terms of Leviathan. Our tendency is to think of Leviathan as a sea monster. But in reality, the word is actually derived from the Hebrew word for "whale." A whale is big, but it is not necessarily scary (although it certainly CAN be scary at times, a la Moby Dick.) Rabbinic legend even "defangs" Leviathan a little. The legend is that God created a male and female Leviathan, but then had second thoughts as they might multiply and destroy the world. So he slew the female, reserving her flesh as the entree for the banquet that will be held for the righteous, at the coming of the Messiah.

The more I read in the Bible, the more I am convinced that Leviathan was not really meant to be connoted as this horrifying sea monster, but merely something very big with the POTENTIAL for danger, yet not necessarily dangerous in its own right. Leviathan is just "the problem you always have with something big"--it's just too darn big, and you can't control it with your puny skills any more than you can control the wind.

Now, back to that iceberg. The trouble with that iceberg, I think, has more to do with what happens if we thwart this natural process of "rolling different parts of the stuff below" up to the sun.

Imagine hiring a fleet of boats to keep this iceberg exactly in the same position it is, presently. As it melts, and is kept from re-distributing itself in a natural way, it's going to create such pressure that when it DOES roll, it rolls violently. It might take all the boats out and drown their crews. Shades of Moby Dick and Captain Ahab! It's the delusion of thinking you can pull Leviathan around with a fish hook and ten-pound test on a Zebco 33 fishing reel.

So rather than fearing all that massive ice below, I'd rather think of the "sun" as being God, through His Son. Something we have no control over, but melts us all the same, whether we ask for it or not. That natural "rolling" of the iceberg is the wind (or in this case, current) of the Holy Spirit--constantly moving us, re-distributing us, turning the hidden parts of us up to the light to reshape us, so at the moment of our death we are completely "melted" and free, our molecules mixed into the molecules of a vast ocean we can't even begin to comprehend.


Um, um... I am not even sure where to begin with this.

You have such a mind! Such a way of putting things.

I will turn this over in my heart and in my head and return.

Maria, you know how my brain works, I actually was fascinated by this picture and by the beauty of the undersea portion of the iceberg - the play of light and shadow. I am always thinking about the layers of truth and reality and for me this is more of a three dimensional representation of what I often picture as layers on layers.

I hadn't really thought about ice bergs rolling as they change shape and melt. That image had me thinking again about the falseness of humanity's concept of time.

In our imposed sense of linear time on the planet - the change in this iceberg as it melts into the greater source - seems darn near geologic in it's pace.

Meditate if you will on an imagined time lapse film of this massive berg melting and rolling and returning to the source in all it's natural beauty and at a pace more consistent with God.

Our lives are but brief flashes of energy as we pop into and out of the physical world. Our melting and rolling and gradual return to the source should be imagined as equally beautiful and natural.


Man! Did I EVER have a visceral reaction to that photo!

I am afraid of water. And I have a great fear of being smothered (or drowned). Icebergs are a powerful symbol to me of some of the things I fear most.

Recently, as I was racing to meet my Big Deadline, one of our project managers said to me "Doxy, when you explained the problems with this project to me a few weeks ago, I could see that we were just looking at the tip of the iceberg---and now you are UNDER the iceberg." I practically had to go lie down just because she used that image... ;-)

But now you have given me another image to consider. I like the idea that the sun may be melting those hard, cold parts of us that keep us locked into one state of being.


I find it so fascinating how the same picture evokes such a variety of responses. Thanks to you all. When I saw it, my first reaction was the interplay of light and dark, "What lies above," vs. "what lies below," but very quickly that morphed into thoughts of its dynamic nature, and the interplay of "buoyancy" and "balance" in terms of its existence upon the ocean. My universe is one of constant motion--even "stillness" has motion to me--but in the "still" places the motion is more unified and harmonious.

I am a person who is absolutely captivated by the awesomeness of nature, and I believe it is because I can detach enough to see both its beauty and fury in a dual way, where one is not necessarily "good" or "bad", but simply two ends of a spectrum. I observed this even as a small child, through my mother's irrational petrifying fear of storms, and my complete lack of it.

That's not to say I don't have my own irrational, petrifying fears, but nature seems not to be a part of them at all, and the older I get, I find my irrational fears to be a continually diminishing number. What's left of those fears are mostly between my own ears, and more based in "rejection" and "abandonment."

What I learned from this picture is that the technique of "detachment" is probably very useful in dealing with those issues, too.

Vastness usually sends a chill throughout my body...I know, it´s some kind of phobia...but, I consider it to be the great NOT KNOWING, the INFINITY, the ETERNITY...I can´t put my arms around it and hold it dear, it´s the part of me that can´t be soothed except when I accept the TRUTH that I´m not much of a selfabsorbed thinking creature (afterall)...humility comes to mind and not of the cowardly takes courage to accept the things that I can not change....gulp.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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