For five years, while we lived in two states, we traveled back and forth past the Mammoth Cave National Park without stopping. So in our first actual vacation in six years, we decided to take our family to this great historic place in the middle of Kentucky. I had been there as a child and remembered the cavernous entry that was huge to me when I was so young. The cave is different now. In fact, it is so popular that you must make reservations online prior to going in order to secure a spot. We looked at the different tours that were offered and chose a two hour tour called the Historic Tour. It would be a moderate hike, some tight and narrow places, some low places and a lot of steps at the end. Not too strenuous, but enough that it felt like we did something.
When we arrived, we enjoyed the quietness of the area. It’s so vast that we didn’t notice that fully 97 people had already amassed for the same tour we were on. Our Park Ranger and guide was Ranger Dave, who began to explain how expansive the tour would be. It truly would be historical in nature, describing the history of the cave and its significance. As he described the reasons you might NOT want to be on this tour, the darkness, the tight curves titled “Fat Man’s Misery”, the low spots that you go through hunched over, I actually found myself feeling a little nervous. As I looked down at my sweet Kara, who was turning eight that very day, I saw tears on her face. “Momma, I don’t want to go.” I wished the Ranger would get on to the exciting part to calm her fears. And mine!!
We forged on ahead into the cave with her hanging on tight and a tugging of her quivering lip. As we moved barely into the main portion of the cave, Ranger Dave made a point about the civil war era inhabitants of the cave, their work, and how they did that work in such poor light conditions. He extinguished his flashlight and I felt my girl move close. I was wishing he’d turn his light on for her sake. Another family with an infant soon experienced my same angst when their baby started wailing. The Ranger explained the fascinating details of the time and finally moved on.
I knew the tighter spot was coming and I started to let the group space out in front of me. My thought process was that if there was lots of space in front of me, then I could rush through the tight spot with nobody noticing. But my Kara had another thought. “Mommy, hurry up. They’re getting too far away!” Ugh! What a difference between the two of us. I am more of an island type. I want to work through it on my own. My Kara, although very independent, was more worried about being alone.
I wondered if it would be easier for her, with her personality, to keep up a tight relationship to Jesus than me. More interested in staying close and never losing sight of the guide than being left behind sure seems like a better way to follow a leader. How amazingly different the mentality of staying so close to the guide, than my method of holding back and catching up. I noticed another difference in our travel though the cave. As I got into the tighter spots, with the low hanging solid rock ceilings, I felt more apprehensive. But in those tighter spaces, Kara finally gained her confidence. She, much littler than me, seemed to gather strength from conquering the whole space available. I felt like there wasn’t enough space for me. I was more at ease in the big open spaces, the ones that made her nervous. I think being “an island” personality leaves me wanting my room so when I mess up in one way or another, I have room to recover. How do you follow the leader? Really, do you stay so close that you can’t possibly lose sight of God or which way He is taking you? Or do you hang back, playing catch up where you need to?