The Parable of the Ice Dragon
Remarks on April 2, 1845
My name is Phillip Hailey, and I have been a sailor my entire life. While there are a great many stories that I could tell from my life at sea, the first is an account that was taken while my crew and I were en route to the Cape of Leeuwin in the Southern Ocean south-west of the Tasman Sea along the coast of Australia.
The weather was choppy with Northern gusts bursting against the sails Fore and Main. I ordered my First Mate to roll in the outer jib for fear of losing it to the wind. My crew was experienced and had seen choppy waters before, and no one wore any sign of real concern despite the annoyance of sailing in such conditions.
Of course I had heard whisperings of odd imaginings of past sea captains who had sailed the route we were on. I had dismissed them as early symptoms of scurvy or even perhaps due to rot in the ship’s galley. Still, we had just departed from Cape Agulhas and I had personally seen that we take on fresh produce to keep morale high in the face of the cold weather, and ice that is frequent along the route. I knew that my men would be fearful once we began to see bergs floating near the ship, but I did what I could to preempt their fears within the realm of Her Majesty’s provisions for our voyage.
Still, nothing could have prepared me or my crew for what was to come. At half past seven in the evening the watchman sounded a cry for land into the air. At first we all thought the urgency in his voice was merely due to excitement for only having been at sea for a little over a week and already sighting Cape Leeuwin, but we were mistaken.
The beast had the shape of a seagull, but was the size of a small fishing vessel. It wore chain-mail and seemed to glide like any land-bird. Understandably, my men became increasingly frightened as the beast rose and dove towards the ship.
I had my First Mate ready two swivel cannons port and starboard. My aim was not in the hope of striking the creature, but only to frighten it away. This proved to be a mistake.
After the first gun sounded I noticed that the creature possessed a certain contempt for the sudden noise. It was at this time that we noticed sleet projecting from it’s mouth which, in turn, froze solid a great amount of the ocean. My crew began to panic at the sight of this.
I gave the order to reload the swivel cannons once for either side, but stopped for fear of losing valuable ammunition. When the creature proved undaunted by the sound, I gave the order to load muskets and take care not to hit the sails. This also proved to be done in error, but I felt I had little choice as the creature moved very quickly, and I felt threatened for my crew and cargo. Again, this only proved to irritate the creature further as no one was able to score a hit due to the creature’s speed, distance, and propensity to change direction.
At this time, I gave the order to unfurl the outer jib sail and utilize what wind we could to make landfall. Fully irritated, the creature seemed to take up cause against the ship which had fired upon it, and began to go on the offensive. We were exactly a half a league from Cape Leeuwin.
The attack was conducted entirely through the creature’s breath. It dove and flew deliberately careful to trace the ocean around the ship and indeed all the way to the shore. Soon the ship was locked in ice, and even some of my crew were fearing that the swelling of it would soon crack our hull and send us to the bottom of the ocean.
Once the sea had been made calm to ice in every direction, the creature began to circle the ship careful to keep all of the ice frozen and the temperature well below what should be expected for that part of the world this time of year.
I gave the order to abandon ship and make a run for landfall when the circling became tighter and tighter. My hope was that the creature assumed our vessel was similar to itself, and that it’s cause was not against the people running from it. Perhaps the destruction of our own vessel may buy us enough time to cover the distance across the frozen waves.
I had a great number of my crew who were too frightened to leave the ship, and so I took it upon myself to grab a cutlass and a loaded musket, and lead them off of it. I was pleased to see my entire crew comply despite the ongoing events.
Once offloaded, we began to run for Cape Leeuwin on foot doing our best to ignore the notion that we were actually treading across frozen ocean. For a time, our plan seemed to work as the creature took to freezing the topmost sails one by one in each pass allowing them to shatter in the biting wind it created with its wings. We did our best not to observe, but to continue forwards towards the Cape as fast as we could travel.
Unfortunately, the time spent by the creature freezing our sails, was not spent in preventing the ocean from thawing. As we ran we noticed that the waves between the ground we had covered and where we had been running were beginning to return to normal. I and several of my crew began to run faster in response, but there was a number who lost heart and were taken by the sea.
I arrived in Cape Leeuwin with only my life and half of my crew. We avoided the beasts by taking cover in the forest near the beach. My ship and all her cargo were lost. This is my record as I have confirmed the sighting of the creature with the Port Authority at Cape Leeuwin.
Several of my crew are being treated for shock and hypothermia.
The Ice of Insecurity
Insecurity paralyzes us. If we begin to believe that we cannot run across the frozen water, that the beast and its power is too much…we can choose despair in the moment.
Maybe you aren’t Captain Hailey and are forced to run for your life from some ice-breathing monster. But from what I’ve seen monsters don’t have to breathe ice for them to be scary.
Life makes us run, and sometimes victory is a hard sprint towards a distant shoreline.
Do you believe you can make it?
The seed of insecurity begins with how we think. When we allow our minds to land on earth we begin to wrestle with comparison, ingratitude, and every manifestation of the flesh. This yields a crop of lies. Death.
And we reap what we sow.
Consequently, when our thoughts are on the stuff of heaven: kindness, gentleness, patience, and love, our confidence is never called into question and is therefore free to flourish.
This is why Paul urges the Corinthians
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2
And something similar to the church at Philippi
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:8
It is not true to think only of our failures.
It is not honorable to think only of our own ineptitude.
It is not right to think only of our brokenness.
And sometimes the grace that we lean on most is simply the grace to lean on heaven for our confidence.
RESPOND: Where do you suppose you will end up if you continue to think in the patterns that you do? How can dwelling on better things destroy insecurity in our thoughts? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!