Beneath the Surface

My daughter came home from school the other day and announced, “Did you know the Hawaiian islands are actually the tips of volcanoes?” I remembered hearing something like this once, and I knew that there were active volcanoes on the islands, but I never actually stopped to consider that the Hawaiian islands did, in fact, emerge from the sea countless millennia ago, pushed upward by the power of eruptions below the surface. The part tourists flock to, the visible part, is only a small fraction of the whole picture. It turns out that Hawaii’s Mauna Kea is actually the world’s tallest mountain, but the majority of it is submerged. The visible part is breathtaking and majestic, but hardly as imposing as all forty-five-thousand-plus feet would be if they were all above sea level.

Mauna Kea image courtesy

Today, I stumbled upon this article about Jacques Cousteau. I was immediately drawn to these paragraphs:

[Cousteau’s son] Jean-Michel Cousteau explains how Jacques Cousteau became fascinated with the ocean, and how curiosity and determination was the driving force behind his achievements.  Jacques-Yves Cousteau had always wanted to see more and deeper, and to stay longer underwater.  He created what was required to do that, from the Aqua-Lung, better known by the acronym scuba, to submersibles.

“That gave him the freedom to swim like a fish with a camera and be able to record what he was seeing,” noted Jean-Michel Cousteau.  “Because of that, over time he realized that we were abusing the ocean, but people up there didn’t know that because they had never seen what was underwater.”

Jean-Michel Cousteau says that’s when his father realized he had a mission.

“The mission was to communicate with people more and more and more about what was there and he used to tell me all the time – and I quote him, ‘People protect what they love.’ So it’s a matter of exposing people and making them care and love and want to protect,” he added.

Most striking to me is the idea that, once Cousteau had a glimpse of the world below the surface, he wanted to return again and again. But it wasn’t enough for him simply to explore it; he felt compelled to help others love it enough to want to protect it, too. It became his life’s mission.

There have been a handful of brave souls who have dared to explore the world beneath the surface. They seem to know something the rest of us don’t, and they are willing to risk safety, security, and familiarity to find out for certain. They know that the surface only tells the merest speck of the story. For them, the visible world is only the beginning.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:18

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