We got back from New Orleans late Friday night, and Saturday woke up early to head to a local adventure; my sister Rebecca and her husband Chris had invited us to join them and their daughter Sarah for a fun family day on her last weekend before heading back to college out of state. Of course we had said yes!
The cave entrance, greeting its visitors somewhat ominously.
That appeared to be a very thin and wide lip of rock above us. A bit disconcerting to be entering under--it looked so thin to be holding up itself, let alone a forest on top!
The massive piles of boulders and fallen rock we passed going in and throughout the tour were not all that reassuring either.
This was my favorite moment--where a perfectly still, black pool of water created an optical illusion that made it appear that railing was separating us from a precipice.
I could not tell which photo managed to capture the effect better, so I included both.
Colorful, "frozen" waterfall.
You can see how the cave got its name. At one point in its history, when it was in private hands, they promoted it as a place for weddings. Apparently not for people into mythology or symbolism.
If I were at home and had my photoshop tools, I might be able to tweak this photo's lighting--but even backlit, it shows happy kids experiencing & learning new things. Which is pretty much the point of the whole trip.
I do want to throw in one bit of spiritual reflection; in my French Quarter post I mentioned having what seemed like a supernatural energy the entire time we were in New Orleans. Seriously, it was bizarre. I always had the urge to use the stairs in the hotel instead of the elevator, even after a long day of walking around. I enjoyed zipping around at a brisk pace anytime I was walking alone. And on the driving days anytime we stopped for a break I didn't just stretch my legs--I would be happily chugging around the expansive rest areas. I remember distinctly one rest area at night, at the very end of our drive home, that was very hilly. Chugging up one particular steep spot felt SO GOOD on my legs, my body, that I kept circling around to do it again and again and again. I never felt tired, I just felt amazing.
Then getting up early the next morning, making breakfast and packing a picnic lunch for me & the kids, navigating & driving them to the cave 2 1/2 hours away (since we had to take 2 cars), hiking the steep slopes inside the cave, driving back to Tuscaloosa, and then walking in the door and immediately helping cook dinner, clean up dinner, and starting all the dirty laundry from our New Orleans trip so we would have clean things for church the next morning--it was non-stop go for me that long day. And the energy stayed throughout, keeping me cheerful and capable, meeting all of my family's needs. As it had felt so amazingly good physically the night before, this night I was aware of how it felt so amazingly good spiritually. I felt like superwoman!
And then, when my last task was done late that night, the energy was done too. It wasn't adrenaline, which I have a hard time coming down from, and which leaves me feeling thin and edgy after a long high--no, this felt like a covering of Grace that was being lifted when I no longer needed it. I didn't have to come down from anything, I just was done, and satisfied.
I'm like the kids, experiencing and learning new things, on this spiritual journey. I'm recording and sharing them because they are as real and tangible and awe-inspiring as any wondrously featured cave. And sometimes as briefly experienced--I don't know why that energy came and why it has not visited since (much as I could use it at times!), so it feels like one special place I visited and very much enjoyed. I'm better just for knowing it exists.