Seeking the Deep Places
Something about me that most people in the church probably don’t know is that I love caves. There is something I find amazing about the alien world that exists just below our feet, with its rugged terrain, unexplored depths, and complete darkness. I was hooked on the beauty of caves from an early age, when I toured Mammoth Cave on an elementary school field trip. Having the world’s longest cave system so near where I lived excited my imagination in ways similar to those I have heard from people who experienced the ocean or mountains as young children. Since my first underground foray, I have gone on tours of many caves in Kentucky and Indiana. Most recently, Jeannine and I went on an underground river tour of Bluespring Caverns near Bedford where we saw a cave crawfish and a cave frog! Soon we look forward to seeing Marengo Cave (Marengo, IN) and Indiana Caverns (Corydon, IN).
People have been fascinated by the underground world for millennia. Anthropologists recently dated cave paintings in Europe back to 40,000 years ago, meaning that our humans have used and revered caves for a very long time. Several tales in the mythologies of various cultures point to caves as gateways to the afterlife, liminal spaces reserved for ritual, burial, spiritual journeys, and sacrifice. On the other end of the spectrum, I have toured a couple of caves that were discovered only after someone’s excessive dumping of trash into a sinkhole caused a collapse that exposed the cave to daylight for the first time in ages.
Now, the types of tours I’m talking about are the ones meant for all ages. I’m no spelunker, and I certainly don’t have the skills to explore a wild cave. Like the “mountaintop experiences” or “thin places” we talk about in church sometimes, caves are places where we cannot dwell forever. They can be (re)invigorating, inspiring, and even transformational places, but they do not have all the things we need to live fully and to thrive. Once we have had our awakening, we must return to community.
What are the natural places that fascinate or inspire you?
Is there a type of terrain (mountain, ocean, beach, river, plain, desert, cave, rain forest, etc…) that enhances the connection you feel to humanity, including our ancient ancestors? How about your connection to the Divine?
Have a great week!