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Cold, dark & empty

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecc 3:11 NLT)

I visited Luray Caverns in Virginia last week. The caverns are amazing. Pictures cannot do them justice… it’s the sort of thing that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

When you descend the stairs to the caverns, the first thing you learn is that they are cold, dark, and empty. The guides explain that the temperature is a constant 54° F year round… quite a contrast to the muggy 90° temps above ground in August! You’re told that when the caverns first opened, people toured them by candlelight. It’s hard to imagine how dark it would be without the electric lights that now illuminate the chambers. They also point out that these caverns are sterile. Nothing lives in them — no bats, no lizards — not even bacteria. The air is pure.

Rock "curtain" formation

Rock "curtain" formation

And yet… in this cold, dark emptiness… there is delicate beauty.

Water seeps in from above and deposits minerals that solidify and build on eachother over time, creating stalactites, stalagmites, and other fascinating formations. Some are as tall and thick as columns, others so thin and delicate that they look more like curtains. (The picture shows a curtain formation so thin that light shines through it!)

In places, it looks like a waterfall was instantly frozen in stone. It’s beautiful… not in the same way that the mountains above are beautiful, but in its own way.

And in a way, that’s encouraging to me.

When you lose someone you love, it leaves a void… and it feels like you have a cold, dark, empty place inside. Like the caverns, it goes pretty deep, even though it can be virtually hidden from the surface. They say time heals the wound. I doubt it. I don’t think it can ever be eradicated. But maybe over time — a lot of time — after God’s love & comfort have been able to seep down past the surface and into that empty place… maybe it can also be transformed into something beautiful.