Wednesday, February 28, 2024

CAVEING: The Birth Canal to Godliness

I’m on a new trail searching for a special cave.  I’m an amateur explorer, but I wasn’t told this would require any special gear or training. After a long walk, I’m relieved to come across the entrance to a cave. It looks right according to my list of instructions, although the instructions were not very detailed, or perhaps I don’t remember all the details. 

I carefully approach the entrance and look inside. It does resemble what I’ve been told to look for. I’m thrilled, I’ve found it!  However, maybe I should examine the inside more carefully. I'll walk in. It looks right according to the instructions I was given. Although many things fit the instructions, I also see things I don’t remember being told to recognize.  I’m going to continue in faith and hope, and maybe the instructions I have will be validated.

I become enthralled but before long, I notice that it is beginning to get dark outside. I no longer recognize what I see, there are only lumps and holes. Fear and uncertainty grip me for the first time. What if I get lost and can’t find my way out? A decision must be made. Do I keep going or turn back toward the entrance. The sun is setting fast, and I notice that I’m no longer sure of which way is out. I’ve already waited too long. Maybe I really am lost. Am I half in, or half out.  I have no sense of how to back track without making the situation worse.  Fear is rising, but I tell myself to calm down because panic could be fatal.

I decide to keep going in deeper, but the suspicion that I’m lost is also growing stronger. My heart sinks to my stomach. I’m probably in real trouble but its too late to back out, since I don’t know where out it. This isn’t right. The points that seemed to indicate that this was the right cave begin to seem like evidence of deception but it’s too late to go back since I’m not sure where back is.

I continue walking in the dark, feeling sides and corners with my hands, and exploring the rocks and holes in the ground with my feet. I'm getting better at moving through the dark and yet with every corner turned, I hope to see a ray of light to guide me through this situation. This fantasy is all I have.

Existence before I entered this cave is now only a nostalgic memory. I don’t even know if I’m going in the right direction. I might die, lost in the dark forever, no matter what I do. Now and then I come to a split in the cave wall. Should I follow it? Will it get me free, or will I end up even more lost.  I follow two of these splits and find myself tired and even more lost but with luck I feel my way back to the main cathedral. I’m beginning to remember and follow textures on the cave floor and feel the different forms on its walls.

My eyes are useless now, and although I’m getting better at feeling my way along, I’m obsessed with the hope of sunlight leaking through a hole to bring an end to this misadventure. I can think of nothing but a way out. What if I fall into an unseen watery trap. However, my nonvisual senses are now growing stronger. Finally, I see a light. I’m afraid to believe my eyes, since they have been dormant for hours. As I approach, I’m thrilled to see a real light beam coming through the top of the cave. It is small and far too high to reach.

Eventually, I see other beams of light leaking through the top of the cave, but I quit believing that they meant solution to my situation.  Probably I’ll die here, but those tiny beams of light may someday be just the right size and close enough to the cave floor, to make an exit possible. I don’t have emotional peaks and canyons anymore. I just keep feeling my way through the dark. There is nothing better to do, and there is no one to help me through an emotional meltdown, I must stay focused.

If I die here, some archeologist may find my bones in a few thousand years and creatively speculate on what religious rite caused an ancient human to be sacrificed in this cave. He or she may well forget that they were also seduced into this cave in search of knowledge. I’ve often wondered if any archeologist ever dug up a former incarnation of himself or herself. He or she will forget that he or she was also seduced into this cave, because humans are always searching for the “Great Mystery”, if for no reason other than trying to solve it. Of course, the mystery is never solved, but the entrance to the cave is irresistible. Both humans and cats can’t resist dark holes, though possibly for different reasons. However, there is the possibility of finding something surprisingly delicious and juicy in both cases, and both are pulled through life by a hope called curiosity.

Perhaps we humans are agents of the divine creative urge. What is curiosity? It is a desire to find the next piece of a puzzle, even though we sometimes try to force the fit. Are we building each imperfect model toward a higher resolution of an original image? What if we fall into the depths of darkness while exploring for seductive treasures and we find ourselves in a hair-raising mystery that we might not survive? Perhaps, survival is relative. Will you live forever safe and happy if you walk on by the cave entrance? Or will meaningless predictable boredom freeze the mind and heart. Without danger we become mechanical.

Your shell will shrivel up and turn to dust as we all must. Anyone may lose courage and focus on any point inside that cave and become a mysterious pile of bones. No one is completely lost, but starting over depletes hope, and makes faith a bigger leap.

Perhaps you make it all the way through this cave until you find a beam of light bright enough and in climbing height to be an exit.  You pull yourself out of the cave, into the light and rejoice. Faith in your original instructions is restored and you are proud of yourself for carrying through. Perhaps you praise God and your brave ancestors for their example. Then you find a light filled trail where you can see all the rocks, and holes. You thank your lucky stars, and maybe God, drink deeply from a pure, bubbling stream and take a peaceful nap, to complete this glorious sunny day.  For me, the best came when I set off for home to meet my loved ones. Some of them were not home, but I’ll try again another time.

The next time I walked this trail I noticed another cave opening. At first, I think, “no way.” But curiosity and doubt overtake my fear. Could this be the cave I was originally intended to find?  Well, who knows? I survived the last cave. Maybe that means I’m lucky, or God is interfering here and there—maybe that's the same thing. Well, I have some experience now. Maybe I should peek into this new cave, (new to me) and see what secrets it may hold. Then I forget how confused and even terrified I was when I lost the help of sunlight in that first cave.

To be continued, Life is a dream, birth and rebirth are caving expeditions. May I become a better caver.

Words Inspired by God!