About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Glacier lesson

This summer our volcanological hobby brought me and Martina to Iceland. On our first day we visited the Þríhnúkar (Three-summits) volcano. We went all the way to the highest summit and descended right down through the lava chimney to the large cavernous magma chamber. It was a special experience to be 400 ft. deep inside of an extinct volcano. But it was something we planned and expected.
       What I was not prepared for were the experiences on the opposite side of the temperature scale. Hiking on Langjökull, one of the largest European glaciers was truly breathtaking. It was the middle of summer, and as far as the eye could see there was nothing but ice and more ice, in some places 1,900 ft. thick. The sound and feel of a summer glacier is indescribable; it flows and it sings, it breaths and rings. Melodies of brooks and moulins (meltwater cascading into deep cracks) are part of the experience of a summer glacier. Unfortunately it has been melting faster than it can be replenished through winters.

Martina on Langjökull near group of  moulins.

       The next day we climbed Snöfellsjekull, a 4,744 ft. tall volcano also covered with a white cape of permanent snow and ice. (This is the volcano which Jules Verne picked as an entry point for the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” – and no, we did not find any entrances, only some lava tubes.) At first, our ascend of Snöfellsjekull was gentle on a dry volcanic tephra, but soon we transited to the glacier and the going got steeper and steeper. All the way up we could see the summit; it seemed so deceivingly close, but it was not getting much closer as if the mountain played tricks on us.

Glacier-covered stratovolcano Snöfellsjekull from distance of about 30 miles.

       But then, when we finally reached the summit, suddenly the full panorama opened up on all sides. It felt like a religious experience for us breathless hikers. First hand we could experience why so many important biblical events took place on the mountaintops. It is a combination of spiritual and physical breathlessness, it is a combination of spiritual and physical exhaustion and exhilaration, it is a combination of new and broader physical and spiritual horizons. Such experience never comes without strain; you have to climb the hill, you have to invest the effort - at the same time with that overwhelming panorama all around, you also know preciously well that your personal effort was only a small part of this profound reward.

Andrew near the top of Snöfellsjekull

       Yes, you have to commit, you have to invest your own energy, but you gain a manifold reward which is so difficult to describe in words; it has to be viewed and experienced, it has to be felt, like the gusts of wind, sparkling of ice crystals and views of land and ocean. It is a profound gift of eagle-like perspective.

Snæfellsnes (peninsula) from Snæfellsjökull (volcano)

       And then comes the time to return, time to descend down to the mundane life down below in the valleys. The descent can be as strenuous as the climbing up, and perhaps a little bit more dangerous; just watch for those ice crevices, some could be several stories deep!  But a returning person has been inwardly transformed, illuminated, with new perspectives, with broader horizons.
       I consider such mountain-hiking to be a fitting parable for our spiritual life, our spiritual life journey. The grace of our Lord is free, but it isn’t cheap! In our faith and in our life together as a church we have to invest our effort and physical as well as spiritual energy. Sometimes we might think that it is too hard and too steep, but in the end we receive manifold reward in refreshed minds, broadened views and deeper appreciation and love. So let us take a hike together through spiritually breathtaking landscapes, a hike for a stronger, committed and enlightened faith.

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