“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.”
~ Valerie Andrews, author
We explored underground on the weekend, crawling over wet, jagged rock in a murky darkness, cut only by the lights each of us wore. Never looking up (for fear of what we might see hiding there), unless a shaft of daylight caught our eyes, we scrambled and slid, emerging from each cave in progressive states of muddiness.
Sometimes we could hear the voices of other adventurers, sometimes all I could hear was my own breathing while I struggled to keep up with my 4-year-old spelunker. Sometimes we could feel the thumping of other children running overhead, and a few times we could hear Daddy’s voice calling out “Marco!” in an attempt to locate us underground.
After finishing each cave, the boys would run ahead, looking for the next opening. We didn’t stay at each one very long, only going in as far as we could comfortably move and turn around. We didn’t get to explore the glacial ice that reportedly exists year-round at the bottom of one cave, but that may be an adventure for when the kids are old enough to go below on their own.
The caves are a natural playground, and I think God had kids in mind when He created them. Our kids were running, jumping, and climbing, above and below ground. And when they started to tire, we walked a few hundred yards to the river, where they could splash the mud away (which of course, is much more fun than taking a bath in a boring old bathtub).
Exploring the world God created is something that I’m increasingly convinced we should encourage our kids to do. To interact with nature, to taste the rain, to listen to the secadas, to touch the muddy surface of rocks that haven’t seen the sun in a long, long time, and to smell decaying vegetation as it recycles itself for the benefit of other still-living plants — these are things we can research online, watch documentaries about and write assignments on. But the only way to really understand Creation (and therefore, it’s Creator) is to experience it firsthand.
And the fact that God gave most kids a natural curiosity, a need to explore and a predisposition towards getting messy? To my way of thinking, that’s God’s way of saying “Let the little children come to me!”.
And who am I to stand in the way?