Monday, May 12, 2008

Confessions of a Spelunker

I truly enjoy caves. I don't think I'd make it as a professional, but that's OK; there aren't any caves within a nearly 200 mile radius of Frankston, so it's not like my services are needed on the geological front.

Nevertheless, today, Darin and I visited the Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, KY, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. (I was even skipping I was so happy!) After a 2-hour, 2 mile hike (it wasn't about making good time, it was about not twisting an ankle), we resurfaced, more deeply grateful for the detailed hand of God in Creation. We all know he took intricate care in design of beaches and mountains, oceans and valleys, but underground?! I'm not so much a detail person, but God definitely revealed his desire to bring all things to completion by creatively arranging things underneath the surface of the earth.

We took the "Historic Tour" which was led with the intent of informing our group about how the cave system (the largest known cave system in the world, covering nearly 400 miles of trails/paths) was discovered and used throughout the last centuries. The aspect that most fascinated me was a large "room" called the "Church." In the 1800s, a group of Methodists met there for worship services during the summer months. Since the temperature in the cave never varies from about 54 degrees F, it was a much cooler alternative than remaining above ground. What delighted me were the acoustics of the "room." I wanted so badly to burst into a song of praise and worship, just to experience what I know they felt as they sang more than 100 years ago. Each parishioner would carry a lantern with them into the depth of the cave (Darin and I figured we were about a 1/2 mile in), and the deacons would set the lanterns on "shelves" to illuminate the space while they met for 4-5 hours (the pastor was known for being rather long-winded).

Two other aspects of the cave we enjoyed were known as "Fat Man’s Misery," a long, snake-like winding narrow path no wider than 18" at it's greatest point, and "Tall Man’s Agony." Even though it was necessary for Darin to get on his knees through that part, he had a great attitude about it, laughing and crouching like the rest of us.

We truly experienced darkness, too. When our guide, Jason turned off all the built-in lights, his flashlight and lantern, I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face. He said several years ago, a man was stuck in the cave for 39 hours in its complete darkness and silence. He began to bang rocks together and sing just to keep from allowing his mind, eyes and ears to play tricks on him. When his rescuers found him, they congratulated him on so wisely providing ways for them to find him. He assured them it was not for their sake, but his own that he was doing those things. He was trying to assure himself that he was OK, alive and not in danger.

I've remembered that all afternoon. Is that what people without purpose and hope in Christ feel like? Are they afraid in the utter darkness and silence they feel and are making all kinds of noise with their hearts and lives just to feel like they're still OK, alive and not in danger?

Honestly, since I've been a Christ-follower since childhood, I've been blessed not to know that sense of desperation. But, I'm so often guilty of judgmentally observing the actions and words of those who are lost, rather than recognizing that they may be simply crying out in their darkness and silence for the God who is the Light (John 8:12). He knows how dark it is for those who can't even see their own hands in front of their faces. The question is, "Am I waving my hand to offer them nothing in their darkness, or am I holding out the light of Christ?"

Tough question. Some days it has an unpleasant answer, unfortunately. Spelunking's only fun when there's a light by which to see. Living life on top of planet earth is the same.


Anonymous said...

the cave sounds beautiful-God is so amazing! take care and have fun.

Summer Says... said...

Thanks for posting blogs and pictures. I am enjoying vacationing vicariously through you and Darin! I hope you continue to have a wonderful trip!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog. You express things so beautifully! So many times they mimic my very own thoughts I just can't seem to word them and put them to paper as beautifully as you do. You should write a book.
I hope we can take a trip this summer like yours.....
Love ya