While it may be true that no man is an island, I think we are all icebergs. What do we have in common with icebergs you ask? Only ten percent of who we are is visible to others, ninety percent of who we are is hidden beneath the surface, just as ninety percent of an iceberg lies beneath the surface of the water. We may bump into each other as we are tossed about by life’s waves, undercurrents, winds and storms, but we won’t really know and appreciate one another until we take the time to look beneath the surface. We must look beyond what we see to what is unseen, but just as important. (actually more important if truth be told) Icebergs are so much more than what first meets the eye and so are people. People, like icebergs, are not always as they first appear to be.
It takes both time, intention and extra effort to look beneath the surface. We can view the ten percent of the iceberg from the safety of the water’s surface, but to see the ninety percent that is hidden from our sight, we have to dive in, we have to get wet, we have to take a risk, we have to leave our comfortable place and enter into the uncomfortable, uncertain depths below the surface. This is hard to do, but the results are worth it and are ultimately rewarding. In looking more deeply, beneath and beyond the exterior surface of a person, we gain knowledge that we lacked before. This new knowledge leads us to understanding and this understanding makes empathy possible. Empathy makes possible compassion for another person and compassion allows for mercy followed by grace. Everyone has a story. If we only knew what lies beneath, or for people, more accurately, what lies inside their hearts and what experiences make up their past, I feel certain this earth would be a more empathetic and therefore a more peaceful, place.
While we can look beneath the water’s surface to see the rest of the iceberg, it is a much more daunting task to look into a person’s heart and have the patience to learn their past. Still the words which are displayed in the entry way of my home, remain for me the best reminder of what I would do well to remember every day of my life.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Lord, help me to see others with my heart and not just my eyes.
sincerely, Grace Day