Utter Darkness

On our second day in Bend, OR, Knox and I descended from a balmy, sunny 85°F to a cool, still 42°F inside the Lava River Cave. With USFS-provided lanterns and backup headlights we ventured the mile-long trek into the bowels of the earth, feeling cool drafts of air and catching glimpses of variegated igneous rock textures.

Although the hubby was stoically fighting clammy anxiety (what if there’s an earthquake right now when we’re underground? would they find us? look for us?), I decided that I may have a future in caving yet. It was actually quite fun to channel Tom Sawyer to Knox’s Becky Thatcher! I think spelunking might feel too claustrophobic for me (at least the way Knox has described it), but exploring this open cave, at least, was quite the meditative experience.

To see what it would really feel like to be alone, I had Knox take the lantern around a bend in the cave. I turned off my headlamp and just let things be….

It is not in the expanse of space but rather in the depths of the earth that one finds the utmost, thickest blackness! One’s soul floats, solitary, in a medium at once viscous and immaterial, constricting and liberating. The constant dripping of moisture on the rocky floor is the only rhythm perceived beyond the eddies projected by eyes rendered irrelevant….

My hermit nature has found its siren call.

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