Setting out for our underground trip on Monday (1/12/2014) I was very much at odds with myself.
Although having accomplished a seemingly ‘extreme’ underground vertical adventure in Cwmorthin back in August, I was now beginning to wonder why I was even contemplating putting myself through this ‘torture’ of dark unknowingness again at Nenthead!
As we approached the mine entrance I was trying to convince myself that there was a real purpose in this journey – the argument with myself not sounding too convincing though!
My mind was recalling constantly the lesson from back in the summer ‘don’t let the darkness happen to you, you happen to it’ – a battle I was very much in fear of losing!
The journey began with a wade through ankle deep water, and a momentary pause to observe the formation of stalactites; the hesitations still in place.
Pausing at a junction of tunnels Mal and I found ourselves in lively debate and discussion over our mornings Advent thoughts, and as we selected our path to follow, left us with more to ponder on.
With water levels having subsided I began to feel like ‘Alice (in Wonderland)’ as ceiling and floor acquainted themselves more closely, however I also found my thoughts returning to the density of dark beyond the light of the headlamps. As my ‘murmurings’ returned in deeper form the journey began to have a sense of exploration about it with a familiarity in the environment.
Having returned to ‘normal’ size, reaching the open expanse of Smallcleugh Flats we paused again and turned off our headlamps. It seemed as if we were well and truly in the very darkest depths of the earth! Yet as we stood for 2/3 minutes in the dark and silence it wasn’t the darkness that overwhelmed me on this occasion, but that inextinguishable light; a quiet, but very real, inner peace and joy.
Again with decisions to be made on which direction through the mine to take, we lit back up, and moved off.
As we made our way on hands and knees through some more smaller than life tunnels, having a moment to stop I found myself sobbing with tears rolling down my face as a greater understanding of things of life from the past of childhood to more recent days illuminated my thoughts.
With the ‘whiff’ of fresh air becoming more evident and shafts of light appearing some distance away, our trip was coming to an end and with a genuine heart I found myself admitting to having enjoyed this time.
Being in dark places, both practically and emotionally/mentally/spiritually, can be challenging with potential for hurt and pain. It is in these times if we choose to take hold of the ‘light’ that it shines the brightest and leads us to a place where we can emerge with fresh thinking and hope.