By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief
I had the pleasure of being in Malaysia recently, and visited the Batu caves near Kuala Lumur. The Batu caves are celebrated as a holy pilgrimage site for Hindu believers.
Next to the religious site was an educational one- a section of caves protected by the environmentalists and used to teach tourists about the ecosystems hidden in the dark. You are given a headlamp, and then you follow a guide into the darkness to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of squeaking bats, scattering cockroaches, and some intelligent prehistoric spiders.
Caves are not my comfort zone.
I read a book recently, a collection of general wisdom, that often spoke about accepting the dark parts of yourself. A ying and yang sort of thing. In all honesty, the idea is a far cry from the “strive to be holy” Christianity I am familiar with. Our human world has generally accepted light as good and darkness as evil for millennia.
Which brings me back to the cave.
The cave filled with creepy crawlies was not a spiritual place- it was, quite simply, just old. It is a place without sunlight, where the animals adapted and eventually formed an entire ecosystem centered around bat poop (really). It’s a circle of life. A place where bugs and bats adapted to the darkness with bigger eyes, longer feelers, better ears, more advanced webs to catch prey. It is a basic life, a prehistoric dinosaur life. Not evil. Not good, either. Just life.
Which brings me to wonder. I was not mad at the bats and bugs for being what they were. They just were. Would sunlight enlighten them somehow? It would change them, certainly, but I don’t think that’s an allegory for spiritual enlightenment. They just are. And when they adapt and change, they still just are. There’s some spiritual wisdom buried in here somewhere that I’m trying to pull out. Theology aside, striving or no striving, there is some truth to this idea of acceptance.
I am me, now, in this moment. I will be me later. I was me yesterday. I am constantly changing by millimeters like the stalagmites and stalactites I saw in this beautiful cave. I don’t have millions of years, but I do have a lifetime to be formed into a piece of art. I am art now, and I will be art later. I am uniquely formed,with my drops of water, my scars, even my location and chemical makeup. I am unique, In the same way the other mites and tites around me are unique.
I am beautiful now. I was beautiful before. I will be beautiful tomorrow. However short or long life turns out to be, I am complete and growing, the paradox of art.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well –Psalm 139:13-14 New International Version (NIV)