Yeah, it wasn't a good morning. Mondays. You know?
Something in me just wanted to give up and never mind going. It's just a cave. You've seen one before. You've seen one you've seen 'em all.
Alvin McDonald spent nearly three years in the 1890s exploring The Wonderful Wind Cave with just a candle. And then 125 years later the German scientist says we've discovered only 10% of it.
We get there and the man at the desk is nice, friendly, inviting. And then our friends show up, surprising me, I didn't know they were coming. I love them. And the day's not half bad.
When we start the tour, the nice man from the desk leads the way, and he shows us the hole where the cave was first discovered in 1881, tells us how the weather outside makes the wind blow in or out of the hole. Sometimes so loudly you can hear it way back inside the buildings.
Then we go straight down. Straight, straight, straight down. And Mrs. Davidson is there, right ahead of me, and she's got her little son, her youngest, her fourth kid. She's a wise hand at raising kids.
We follow paths winding and turning, stretching and yawning with holes, and checkered with boxwork crystals, dotted with popcorn crystals, like stars filling up the cave walls.
Then there's Mrs. Davidson, always in awe, always in wonder, and pointing things out to Lane, things his rush and run little five year old mind may have missed. And he's in awe and wonder, too, 'cause his mom has this power of invoking wonder.
Trailing along behind them, we duck low rock ceilings, fingers wet and cold from steel railings, and slide through narrow places, listening to Mrs. Davidson, listening to the awe, to the wonder striking up awe and wonder in her boy. And it's doing the same for me.
She stops to look and point, to stare up at the tall ceilings and point out crystals and chutes that go back further than we can see. She takes the time to stop and wonder and really see. And it's interesting, beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Wonderful. Because it is. Because we stopped. We let ourselves see, to let the wonderful things in this universe work their magic over us.
Yeah, there were the noisy children of the family ahead of us, who didn't want to listen when the guide explained things a little too deep for them. There was the rowdy group of boys who were never really quiet at all. Yeah, there's lots of noise out there.
But walking along underground, thinking about what drove Alvin McDonald to search a cave for so long, to document everything he found, and still not reach the end, it's a kin to the universe. The ever unfathomable universe that always makes us shake our heads in wonder.
And I see it then, in this world no one can see unless they go looking for it, it's a version of the galaxy. This cave, a black hole. An underground nebula. Alvin McDonald gave up on ever reaching the end, because it goes on and on and on. You can never reach the end of God's beauty.
And God's beauty?
It can still be found in black holes with no light.
It's there, beneath the darkness, waiting to be found.
Jan 20, 2015
How to stand in awe
K.M. Updike writes young adult and historical fiction and has a frustrating fascination with fantasies that gets in the way a lot. She is the author of the young adult historical fiction novelette, The Life and Death of Terry Dodd. A lover of books and prairies, she lives with her five siblings and inspiring parents in the wilds of the Great Plains. Besides reading books and writing stories, she loves watching old movies and drinking tea in her basement room dubbed "Mole End."