Glaciers and Earthquakes

September 25, 2011 1 By Mirm

I was listening to an uploaded sermon from our church in IL Â last week and Mike was looking back at the events of 9/11.  The comparison of the events,  based on an analogy from Dr. Martin Marty, was to an earthquake.  For most people, the event was an earthquake.

When there is an earthquake, it shakes people up, but after the earth stops shaking, people clean up the debris, perhaps make a few changes in their lives to be better prepared for the next quake, and then life goes “back to normal”.  With the tragedy of 9/11, for most of us, while it “rocked our world”, we remember it, and changes were made that affect all of us, but then life has gone “back to normal”.

For some people, however, the events of 9/11 may have started as an earthquake but the whole landscape of their lives has changed.  For those who lost members of their families that day was more than an earthquake.  What happened for them can be described as the start of a glacier.  Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice. What makes glaciers unique is their ability to move. Due to sheer mass, glaciers flow like very slow rivers. Glaciers dramatically impact their surrounding environment by reshaping the underlying and surrounding landscape as they move so imperceptibly. Glaciers erode the rock underneath them. Glaciers have sculpted mountains and carved out valleys.

So what?  I share this because for me this analogy was a revelation into my own grief.  The cancer diagnosis was like an earthquake that shook up our lives, but it was Jim’s death that started a glacier for us. I have been trying to treat it as the aftermath of an earthquake, trying to clean things up and move “back to normal”. And yet the whole landscape of our lives will never be the same. I am now trying to reframe my thinking and adapt to this new lifestyle, to be patient with myself, to learn new ways to live in the land of a glacier. Just the word picture helps so much.