These days. Remembering other-worldly places I have been. Teenage days where rain turned us away from the beach, lightning kicked us off the creeks, and The Marianna Caverns of my childhood were a strange place of wonder I returned to again and again. Where words of strange origin became common place. Limestone, dolomite, gypsum. Caves and tunnels that run for miles upon miles. Stalactites not to touch. Stalagmites not to trip. In Tennessee I have crawled through tunnels for hours that turned into a day, felt like a lifetime. Seen the beauty of rain rooms that make no sense. Explored underground rooms as large as football fields. Secrets here are kept well, held forever. Caves never seen by our kind for at least a hundred years, maybe a thousand. And possessing a dark so deep, so complete, a hand before your face is nothing more than a memory of a palm etched with lines and weathered like the rock. You traverse the darkness gingerly here. You climb and descend these tunnels like some seasons in life. Slowly, fearfully, so carefully. Knowing at any moment you could slip and fall into an abyss that knows no end. Like the movements and moments of the human heart. So tenuous and scary and marvelous and magnificent. And what a miracle it is every time you find your way back toward the light, where you are reaching up, up, up and someone offers a steady hand.
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