Wednesday, January 31

Meditations on Mud (Caves)

Meditation 1: This is actually an entry from my journal while on the trip. It's better with the random little drawing that goes with it, and the formatting is as close to the original as I could get it. Anyway....

into the deep dark of the caves
away from the sun from warmth from life
twisting body bent by the contortions ofthe
cave eating dust and drinking dark
choking on both of them
the occasional glimpse of light
envying those who walk
forever under the sky
and never in the dark
feet trip and slip
dislodged by the same
dust that grinds
between your teeth
weeping but tears
turn into mud
not the mud
that restored
the sight of
the blind but
the mud that
hardens and
imprisons the
mud that is
the cave echoes
scatter bouncing
into nothingness
you begin to forget
the sky and the
sun in the long dark
but wait
to eyes accustomed to shadow the faint light is unbearable will
you turn away into the familiar dark no you decide even if the sun
burns me to ash and the sky press down on me with the weight
of the world i will seek the light scrambling upward hands scraping
through dust and stones you suddenly find your outstretched hand
grasped and pulled up into the light we were watching you they say
you look down and see the ground full of holes beneath you
kneeling down you peer into one and in the gloom you see
another struggling its alright you yell we're here waiting for
you you stand up in the sunlight the dust of the cave still on
your shoulders and look out across the valley the dust shines like
alabaster and the scattered stones gleam like diamonds in the light.

Meditation 2

I admit, I'm prone to seeing life in terms of metaphor. Or, at any rate, expanding random everyday occurances into views on life.

This being the case, here's one thought from the trip.

Fr. David lead the trip, and since he was the only one who'd been to the mud caves, we relied on his guidance. (I'm sure you can see where the metaphor is going already)

But there were two moments that really stood out to me:

The first was in the caves themselves: I had only a candle for light, which was great, but occasionally didn't give quite enough light. So Fr. David was quite often stopping and shining a light in my path to keep me from tripping (I'll let you draw the obvious metaphor)

The other time was outside the caves, when we were all scrambling down the sides of the hills. I slipped on the loose rocks and sand, and almost slid down (it wouldn't have been a bad fall-just a few feet-but still uncomfortable). Fr. David planted his foot right under mine and kept me from slipping.

By now you've figured out the thoughts running through my mind: this is part of the ministry of priests, to shine light into the darkness, and to help those who are slipping into sin. Again, obvious. But a cool image of it, nonetheless.

Meditation 3. Fire on the Mountain

Being in the desert tends to make one think of the imagery and story of the Exodus and the wandering in the wilderness. I love the deserts and high plains; their beauty is subtle, fierce, and wild. The Anza-Borrego was no different, nor was the arroyo in which we were camping. We saw the hills and sand first by moonlight; the hills looked cold and raw, like mountains on some distant planet. The moon shone so brightly it cast shadows on the ground. And God was in the night.

In the warm morning sunlight, the hills looked hot and dusty, as millions of days under the glare of the sun turned everything to fine sand. The scraggly bushes poked forth leaves in varying degrees of verdancy, and God was in the day.

There was no guiding cloud, no pillar of fire by night. But God burned in every leaf on the bush and on the peak of every hill.

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