The story doesn’t tell us how many monsters lurked, silently stalking, beneath the dark surface of the seas. But now, we sailors know the truth, Leviathan is legion.
They break the surface in spume and grandeur, all turbulence and terror and teeth. Singular we see them at first, and we fight fierce battles with the great devils of the depths; those battles that define us and scar us forever, giving us our eternal limp and, if we lack wisdom, our obsession. To contend is costly, breaking our minds and bodies, robbing us of our companions, even destroying some of the greatest ships to ever challenge the chaotic expanse.
Those battles rage for days, months, years, all bloody toil and thrashing limbs, until our hearts seem too weary to even beat. And then they are gone, defeated, sinking slowly into dark pools of regret and loss, disappearing below the black water. It is over.
Victory consumes us! We sing songs of redemption and celebration!
“We have fought Leviathan and won! We are no longer under the terror of the creature!” We are covered in glory and, perhaps the gore of the broken beast as it stains our hands and vessels, deeply, beyond all cleansing. But thanks be to God we can now return to our course!
From now on, though we be shipwrecked and abandoned on some desert place, that, at least, is expected. Nothing more spectacular to bar our journey than a typhoon or two. Mundane! Objects of scorn! What’s a little blow of wind and rain compared to the tentacles and teeth of the deep creature? And if we are becalmed? What is slow starvation in the searing sun compared to being devoured by darkness?
Then, one day, the sun sails high in the sky, accompanied by swift steeds of cloud and our hearts rise with a tide of joy that carries us home! But the Lookout, high in the nest with his eagle eyes shouts out a warning! Something stirs! And your very soul sinks in the foreknowledge of what is to come.
A dark shadow moves beneath the sun sparkled waves; and, greater terror, it’s brood follows behind. This creature we thought defeated, rising up again from the wet hell below where we had supposedly banished it, returns in multitude taking no pause at our supposed victory over it. The ocean swells before their onslaught and your companions reel in fear.
Grief, we name the foul giants, grief and death and unforgiveness; past betrayals and fresh hatred that we thought long gone; addiction; broken relationships we thought long mended. Leviathan.
But, by God, we are sailors! Trim the sails and run out the guns! Come about, boys, bring to bear our weapons! By the Light within us, let’s show these oversized minnows what men God has wrought for the sea!
Come, Legion! Come Leviathan! Meet the Great Hearts of the Bounding Main! For we have learned through hard experience and vicarious redemption: there is no death but surrender and so we will never die!