Look, But Don’t Touch: Mammoth Cave and God’s Creative Work

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Sarah, Scout, and I recently made a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park.  It is the longest [known] cave system in the world, stretching to almost 400 miles (they expect it could be as long as 1000 miles)!    

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I refrain from giving a play-by-play of the day’s events, but I have included a few reflections from what we saw.  If you are really interested in a play-by-play, we went through a hole that went 250 ft. down, walked through tunnels and rooms for an hour and a half, listened to the park guide, looked at some interesting rocks, then came out of the ground through another hole.

Here are a few reflections:

  1. Something about being in the cave was strangely other.  When you walk through the forest, you can observe trees blowing in the wind or water flowing through a stream.  However, in a cave, things are pretty much completely still.  Except for electric lights, there is no light, and aside from voices, there is no sound–absolute darkness and absolute silence (except in the case of underground streams and rivers).  Something about it feels like “I don’t belong down here.  This probably isn’t a good idea.  I need to see the sun.”
  2. Even a hole in the ground can be beautiful.  We marvel at manmade islands in Dubai or a huge dam in China that took several years to build, when under our feet, water is carving a masterpiece through rock over several millennia.  And it is particularly the length of time it took to carve the cave as it is that makes it such a special place.  God has placed the sense of Himself in every human heart to the point that even an atheist approaches the cave with awe and wonder.  If you are an atheist or agnostic and are reading this, I challenge you to give this a try.
  3. Certain ecosystems don’t need humans to help them flourish.  Our tendency is to interpret the Genesis 1 phrase “fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion” as meaning “tamper with everything you can.”  However, something our guide said caught my attention.  Stalactites and stalagmites take 300-400 years to grow an inch, and they are so delicate that if a human touches one of them, they will never grow again.  They even asked us to wash off our shoes with Lysol when leaving one cave to prevent cross contamination between bat colonies.  So, we are struck with the beauty of these rock formations, and then we are humbled to find out, “If you lay one finger on a stalactite, it will be ruined.”  Sometimes the best way to help ecosystems flourish is by leaving them alone.  God is the Great Sculptor, and though he certainly wants us to study his creation, a lot of times He wants us to be still and trace the movements of His hands, while refraining from touching with ours.

Written by keywoodblog

March 3, 2012 at 4:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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