Cave Darkness

This past spring our family was on vacation in Colorado. We had never been in a cave before with our kids and decided this would be a fun excursion during our stay. We went to Cave of the Winds near Colorado Springs. It was fascinating to hear the history of the cave and learn how people would have explored before modern excavation equipment and safety measures. Crawling on your belly for most of the way, people went nearly 3 hours into the cave only by candlelight. If that’s not enough, there wasn’t a convenient loop or exit at the other end. After your grueling 3 hours, you had to turn around and go back the way you came.

One of the highlights of any cave tour is the moment when the tour guide extinguishes the lights, thrusting you into what is called “cave darkness.” The last time I was in a cave of this size I was a kid, and as I said, this was our kids’ first experience. We did not prep them at all for cave darkness. One minute we were all in a fairly well lit cavern, the next the lights dimmed and our tour guide was holding a candle with a metal shield behind it to focus the light forward. As I realized what was going to happen next, I had no time to tell any of our kids it was about to get dark. It just did. 

Cave darkness is a special kind of darkness. If every single light goes out, you cannot even see your own hand in front of your face. If you think you can, it’s your brain trying to compensate for the utter lack of light. There is dark, then there is cave dark.

“We are cut off from the guidance of the stars, from the sun and the moon. Even the horizon vanishes—if not for gravity, we’d scarcely know up from down. All of the subtle cues that might orient us on the surface—cloud formations, plant-growth patterns, animal tracks, wind direction—disappear. Underground, we lose even the guide of our own shadow”

Hunt, Will. “Getting Lost Makes the Brain Go Haywire.” The Atlantic.

While I’m sure the tour guide’s planned relighting of the candle would have been a dramatic moment, bringing us back to the light and such, it was completely ruined by our 3-year old, Gabriel. By not accounting for the whole cave darkness experience, we didn’t think twice about the light up shoes he was wearing. And so, even in that darkest dark, we had Gabriel’s little green light up gym shoes to show us what was up and down.

Our other kids panicked in the dark. They stood shock still in the moment, but it was all they could talk about for days and days. I’m so thankful for Gabe’s shoes. They gave us the opportunity to remind everyone, again and again, that Jesus is the light of the world, just like Gabe’s shoes were a light in the darkness. Jesus was unexpected and what everyone was looking for, all at once. 

Jesus tells us in Luke’s Gospel that “There is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). There is no where on earth His light fails to reach. The blackest soul, the darkest night, the deepest depth, the highest mountain peak. No one and nothing is hidden from His glorious light. How wonderfully comforting, that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, from the light of the Son. The next time you see a little kids’ light up shoes, I hope it makes you remember that even those little shoes light can make all the difference in the world. 

Daily Graces.

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