Missouri is known for caves. Seriously. We are best known as the “Show-Me State” but we are also known as “The Cave State”. There are over 6,400 known caves in MO and we have a Missouri Cave Association. There is also this beautiful six-page brochure. You are welcome.
Caves are buried treasures. Underneath the earth are these huge caverns of beauty and life. You can walk over a hill and never know that underneath is a natural room grander than any cathedral. I love that. Caves are like the introverts of nature. There is a ton of depth and beauty under the surface. It is worth exploring. Both caves and introverts.
When I was in college, I went spelunking (cave exploring) with a small group of college friends. We were in southwest Missouri (the mother load of caves) maybe an hour from Bolivar, MO, but that is all I could tell you. We drove out to a large field area with a creek bed near by. We hiked down the creek bed for a while and then stopped. On the left was a field and on the right was a steep embankment. I didn’t see a cave.
Our guide pointed out a rabbit hole in the side of the embankment. Maybe it was a little bigger than a rabbit hole but not much. I would not have even noticed it if I was just hiking in the area. But that was our entry point. We crawled into the hole and very quickly it opened up enough that most of us could stand up. We turned on our head lamps and noticed that the room was large but soon narrowed in the distance. We followed our guide and soon we were walking hunched over. After a little more distance, we were crawling on hands and knees. After that, we were laying down flat on our backs and rolling forward – the width of the passageway getting more narrow in every way. Our heads were near one wall and our feet were near the other. Soon, when we would turn to roll our shoulders would be lodged between the floor and the mass of earth above us. So we scooted the rest of the way on our backsides with our noses smelling the dirt above us as we pondered the tons of earth that seemed to hover above us. No one sneezed. We didn’t want to shake anything loose.
After a few minutes of scooting, things started to open again. Slowly we were able to roll again, then crawl, then hunch and finally stand up straight. And it was worth every inch of scooting. The cave was huge. We couldn’t see the ceiling or the far walls of the cave on the other side of a small lake. We could make out some bats but nothing else scurried within sight. We stayed there for a quite awhile not saying much. Until we tried the echo stuff. But for the most part we enjoyed the sacredness of the moment and marveled at the beauty of something that we knew we shared we few people over the life of this buried treasure.
There are times in life where it feels like we’ve either walked into a rabbit hole on our own accord or we’ve been led by situations or someone into a place in life that is seems to be closing in on us. The journey is difficult. It is dark and we can only see a few steps in front of us and it doesn’t look promising. Sometimes your face to face with dirt and feeling buried under a ton of burdens that you feel could crush you at any moment. And you literally feel stuck – unable to move forward and unable to go back.
When that happens, keep pressing forward. Keep scooting on your backside. Because more times than not, there is something waiting on the other side of that struggle that is grand and beautiful. Something that you’ll appreciate even more because of the journey you had to take to get there. I’ve been in other caves where we rode in a little buggy on man-made roads that thousands had traveled. Those caves were nice. But my favorite and most memorable cave is the one where I had to crawl through the dirt on my hands and knees and scoot on my backside in order to find it.
Ever been cave exploring – literally or metaphorically? What are you struggling through right now? If I can pray for you or encourage you, feel free to leave a comment or message me.