Dual realities …Sitting here in the mouth of Dunbar cave the temperature changes and goosebumps begin to rise all over my arms and legs. The temperature inside the cave maintains a cool 57 degrees even when it is 80+ degrees outside. Laying in the in-between of both the cold and the hot, my left side feels the warmth of the sun and my right is shadowed by the shade. I am in this magical moment where the natural environment matches the depths of my heart.
As a family enters the foregrounds of the natural air-conditioning structure, I quickly get up and sit on one of the cave's steps. Sitting and now people watching; call it divine intervention or a coincidence, but like a television series, I watch a family depict my next phase of motherhood.
I witness angsty teenagers, a brother and a sister, maybe 14 and 16 years old, I can feel the excitement in the mom's voice, joyfully she explains how this is the cave, and she is clearly e
xcited to have her whole family on this little adventure.
She sits the kids down next to "Dad" to snap a photo of her family, then as she comes in to what I would be assuming to take a family selfie so she can be in this memory, the sister gets up and walks away. The mom protests at first, then the brother also leaves. Not bothered by the children, she has a selfie with the Dad, and seems content with that. The brother has an angry tone, but I don't think he is mad and the sister shuffles around with the rocks in her holy jeans and midriff flannel top. The mom tries to take a photo of the brother and he is resistant.
"I have no recent photos of you, move your hair, smile, come on, just let me get one". I resonate with this mother.
The Mom is holding on, reaching to reach him, just one more memory before we leave, before this moment passes. The dad leaves and the children follow, the mom lays down and holds the phone over her face, maybe she is getting a photo of herself, maybe it's of her view of the ceiling of the cave? I'm not sure, but I can sense she was making peace that this will be her life for this stage. And I can relate.
I am in the midst of a vulnerability hangover. I love the cool refreshing breeze coming in from inside of the cave and the warm sun just on the other side. It's August 2021 and I Just received an email about my "Rising 6th grader" and it stopped me in my tracks…
I am way too young to have a 6th grader, I think out loud l, I still remember my 6th grade as if it were yesterday.
Reality stops and my past walks in.
Now, a solo mother is here with her young children, maybe 3 and 5 year olds. The curious exploration flourishes as their little bodies wonder about, wondering perhaps why the water is on the ground, and why it appears to be raining inside the cave, when it's not raining outside. Or, how exciting it is just to be "up high", higher than the ground they came in on.
"I'm up high Mommy" the little boy calls out to his mother. To climb, then, to pause just to notice the sut of limestone residue on their tiny finger tips. I love this age. Mom stops their adventure momentarily, to take a picture, both kids come together simultaneously and say "cheese" with glee.
As I sit here and ponder the realities of my past and that of my future I have to remind myself to remain present to feel the sensation of my inhalation and attach the anxiety to my exhalation and let go of what is not meant for me to hold. My kids have given me such an amazing experience of life thus far, but the truth remains as I age and so do they.
In this moment I am reminded the time we have with each other is too short to dwell on what isn't any more and what will be.
So I sit her and relish in this space where I get to be me, for no other reason then just to be. This is a moment within most of my days now, where no one needs anything from me and I want to be mindful and appreciate this season of motherhood.
But who am I, if no one needs me?
I walk out of the darkness of the cave and into the light. The sun kisses my bare shoulders and I am grateful for this beautiful day, the spiritual reflection, and the humanity that keeps me humble.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NLT)
I like to thank the park rangers and Friends of Dunbar Cave for preserving this natural habitat, educating our community of it's past and exciting adventure for generations to come. If you are visiting Clarksville Tennessee I highly recommend signing up for a cave tour in May 2022, or taking a hike around the park. If you are a resident of Clarksville, I encourage you to get involve and become a member.