Of Caves and Men—Part 3

The nurse came in early in the morning and pulled away the blinds covering the big window that looked out over the alley behind the hospital, between the buildings and parking areas. The ground looked wet, so I said, “Did it rain?

“Yes,” said the nurse. “Really hard. It poured.

“Wow! That”s great!” I thought out loud. “Now maybe the drought will be eased up.

“I think so,” she said

Then I was happier still as I thought about my small project at home trying to re-establish Eden. It had now been graced by a most benevolent heavenly shower. What a relief to feel that it, too, might survive this ordeal. Yes, how wonderful rain is!  

As the bustle of the morning died down, and the time began to pass slowly, my mind began to wander.


It was a glorious morning, as it had just rained, a lot, and hard. It was crisp and clear out, and the trees and plants were sparkling as the sunshine from the cloudless sky energized them for the season to come. The view from on top the mountain looking down toward the ocean, and spanning across the city was stunning. It was extraordinarily beautiful in fact, because this occurred in the days before the emissions regulations for gas fueled cars had been established, and the air was usually such that one’s eyes would have to slog through the quagmire in order to locate just the tops of the tallest buildings downtown. 

Excitement was in the air, and the vista commanded us to exercise deep breathing, to fill ourselves with the inspiring force of nature that moved us to want to experience life to the greatest potential.  We were ready for an explore. So, when Sally’s friend Rich showed up we began to discuss the possibilities for the day, what sort of adventure we might undertake. Adventure. The word evoked the thought of the caves. While the outside certainly beckoned, the mud everywhere was pretty deep and slippery- in fact it was the kind that sucks your shoes, maybe even boots off and swallows them up. It hit us that the cave tunnel would have been sheltered from the rain, and as Rich had never been there, it would be a good expedition for today

“How long will we be?” asked Rich. 

“Well,” said Sally, “It takes about an hour to drive out there, and then we climb up the hill, and, well, maybe a few hours to go through. Most of the day by the time we get back.

“Well, we better get started then,”  said Rich. 

So, after some more discussion, we set about preparing ourselves- we rounded up several flashlights, with good batteries, and as it was chilly, bundled up pretty good, including two pairs of pants. Then we climbed into the truck and got on our way

We arrived at the mountain, and though it was muddy, climbed up the hill and as it was daytime, found the entrance to the cave without any remarkable difficulty. So, we descended on in and found our way as memory led us. When we got to the place where the slide was, we found that it was very wet, and gritty with sand and small pebbles. While the realization that the rain had found it’s way in here was not a huge surprise, as the whole place did resemble a creek bed, that the slide was no longer a slippery thrill, but rather a long scoot over the rubble, was somewhat disappointing. So, when we got to the cavern we felt somewhat subdued, and though we looked around some, there was little conversation, and as we were damp and it was chilly, we pressed on. 

When I lowered myself down between the boulders into the opening leading out of the cavern, I was stunned to find that there were no more cans or bottles, only sand, and a roomier space!  At that point I wasn’t sure where to shimmy through to the next area, so Sally followed right after me into this section, and gratefully we found we had enough space to raise up enough to look around with our lights. While we were not able to locate any discernible opening, other than the one we had just come through, across the sand there was a small waterfall dropping from somewhere above, and splashing off to somewhere else. It occurred to us, that quite possibly, the opening was behind it. Indeed it was, so as I began to pass through, we urged Rich to follow from the cavern.  

It was an unforgettable experience, this passing through this hidden doorway, as the waterfall tumbled down, getting soaked- only to have the memory utterly and permanently rooted in my entire self, as at the point when it was necessary to turn my shoulders in order to squeeze through the crack, the water fell directly in my face. There was no deep breathing then, only steadfast determination to focus on the project at hand. As I emerged, I warned Sally of the situation, and encouraged them to get plenty of breath before the final squeeze. As Sally worked her way through, I stood up and switched on my light, but found that as it had got wet, it wasn’t working

Though I couldn’t really see, I knew that Sally was through, and I could hear Rich working his way. But he had become somewhat agitated at the unexpected circumstances, and was audibly flailing as he progressed. At the shoulder turning point, he yelled that he was stuck, and couldn’t fit, and began to panic.  

“Turn Rich, turn!” we yelled back. Thankfully the urging worked, and turn he did, and out he came. We all stood then, and Sally and Rich tried their lights. There was a glimmer from Sally’s, and we were just able to find our way to the ledge. At that point, the glimmer faded, and Rich began to yell, that we would never get of here, that we were going to die, but as our eyes scoured the place we saw a glimpse of daylight a ways off. We remembered the jump down, and felt for the edge of the ledge, in the direction of the light. I jumped down, and was shocked to find that what had been a dry channel before was now a pool, nearly as deep as I was tall. “It’s full of water,” I yelled, though I needn’t have, because the plunge was quite audible. Sally jumped in after me, and any reluctance on Rich’s part was entirely submerged in his desire to reach the outside. So, we waded and swam over to the place where the light hovered above, and scrambled up over the rocks, and crawled out.

We were speechless at that point, until Sally said to Rich, “You wore a hole in the seat of your pants.” As it was, we had all worn through our seats, at least the top layer, and so, honed and washed, we clomped and dripped down the hillside.

The nurse came in and said, “I’m gonna give you a bath.”

 “OK,” I said

“ And then the therapist will come, and get you up to walk,” she added

“OK.” I said. And then I thought, this will be a challenge. But, I reflected, nature helps heal things, and I looked at the beautiful clouds outside the window.

 

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