Often we equate our life experiences to mountains and valleys, sometimes we even throw in a plateau season. Our life journey consists of these three for us if take stock.
Recently I became enamored with the Mt. Everest summit team on Snapchat (yes hi, I’m on there too). It followed the trek of two of the guys each and every step of the way. They were summitting at the same time as those who would pass away on Everest were ascending. One ended up at the ABC camp about 8K feet from the summit while the other was able to reach it and rejoin him two days later. It was fascinating to watch their journey parlayed over the app and have them describe in detail the pain and agony of getting close to only fall short in his mind.
In thinking about their journey, and how we correlate our own experiences to those same ascents, descents and valleys of our lives I couldn’t help but be stuck that there was something missing. Mountaintops give us the highs. Valleys give us the lows where we find still waters, hardships or circumstances that inevitably bring us back to a mountain or plateau. It struck me on Saturday as I went up to Kentucky that we also have another life experience we don’t like to discuss.
The cave. Where we are brought further into a valley, to dig deep into our lives and journey to the core of self. Of who we are and what is laid beneath the surface of our lives.
As I walked through the world’s largest cave system Saturday, I couldn’t help but think about my own tunneling in. How God has brought me into this time before where I was weary of the dark, not understanding where it was leading and being fully dependent upon the small flickering light ahead of me.
It illuminates and casts shadows. It can be a daunting place to excavate and maneuver, but you find your footing and you go deeper.
You seek out paths that the light leads in order to continue the journey. You keep thinking that maybe you’re there, and then you turn into a tight squeeze where you might need to get low to get through. Where you find that you don’t quite fit without leaving some of who you brought in with you behind. You shift and change, still moving forward as the light continues on.
Then you face the pit. A pit you can’t quite see the bottom of. You look down and know you have to get across it, but you fear falling into it, unsure of the pit within your own self. A darkness you weren’t aware of that was just around the bend. But you have footing that is sure, that was bridged over long before but allows you to see between the cracks. You see what could have been, what you would have been pulling out of, but instead with sure footing you walk across, remembering what once was but on the path which is leading you to who you are now.
The journey deeper into discovering who you are within isn’t one to be rushed, nor for the sights like you get on the mountaintops or even in the valley views. It’s a process of seeing what you have been, markings left from journeys past, as you dig deeper, sometimes on belly with a spoon, keeping the light ever before you knowing there are paths to discover that lay out more of who you are becoming, allowing light to flood a once darkened space. And when you do journey through, sometimes it’s not to the other-side of the cave within but it loops you back to the beginning, right where you began but not the same. Eyes having become accustomed to the dark that the light at the precipice is far brighter than realized when we bask in it. Knowing that the light within was all that was needed to illuminate our journey but a far greater one awaits for us to take up and take out.
Sometimes going deeper within is what equips us to begin the next season of our journey, up the mountain, down the plateau or through the valley. But knowing that the Light which we held before us in the cave is still ever before us.