I've never quit so early in the season. Even if I only work Saturdays, I've always hung on to the end in October, but last night I turned in my key and badges. No more laser pointer, no more flashlight holder. It's SO SAD! Every year. Your last day of the season is always filled with emotion. Ten summers at Timp Cave. I MUST record a few of the blessings. Remarkable blessings.
When I prayed before sleeping night before last, I said something like, "I'm so tired...help me get through my last day at the cave tomorrow." When I woke up to pray yesterday morning, my heart was overflowing with gratitude for cave blessings. My prayer was mushy and gushy. I can't capture it all in this one blog post, but I'll mention a few things.
The cave itself. The three caves are incredible. For a girl who never had Park Ranger on her list of things to do, I have LOVED that cave!! I've learned so much about geology and our Earth. I have different eyes to see as I travel around and hike in mountains. I always joke that I've been learning geology in "layers." Thank you, Cave, for teaching me part of your story. I'm not a cave professor or anything, but I have learned. You are beautiful. Glad I get to preserve and protect you.
The trail. The trail is where it all started in my quest for a safe place to hike. I am so thankful for the ability to walk. What a blessing all of that hiking and sweating have been to me. The trail has built my testimony and faith in God. I am still skittish and wary about rockfall, but over the years, those random falling objects have turned into "testimony rocks." God knows what all the rocks are doing and where they are falling. I have never been hit by a single one (except the one my husband threw at my head during training when we were all wearing hard hats, "Did that hurt?" he asked...). On MULTIPLE OCCASIONS, the Lord has held back the elements for me. Just for me. Whole slides have been held back until I have passed by safely. When it's my time, it will be my time. For now, God has truly been preserving and protecting me as I have been preserving and protecting the cave.
The rangers. This is the part that brings tears to the eyes. The rangers at Timpanogos Cave are some of the most incredible people who roam the Earth! How lucky am I to have worked with the legendary Arlo Shelley? I have been mentored by Jay Allen and Royce Shelley. When K and I pray sometimes, we express gratitude for all of our Ranger Friends. There are so many, but they are diverse and talented, loving and hilarious! All those Lunch Bench moments. All those inside jokes. All those unprofessional radio chats about the Timpanogos Cave Rule being in effect and Switching to Plan B. I don't know if our Chief Ranger has ever figured out what Switching to Plan B means. He asked me once straight out, but I hedged, refusing to share the little interpreter secret. Watch Point...yeah, I've left one every year except this year. Good times.
Visitors. They come in all shapes and sizes. They come from near and far. Some are polite guests. Others are rude and obnoxious. Some are a little off in their thinking. One woman left me speechless when she said with all confidence, "We went to a cave in Texas once, but that one was underground." Underground? We were standing a hundred and ten feet underground in Middle Cave Fault and I couldn't figure out how to let this woman know that WE TOO were UNDERGROUND! So I smiled and nodded. Just smiled and nodded. On my fourth tour yesterday, one of my best in my whole career, I was talking with my group at the exit, giving my conclusion for my "Was it Worth It?" theme. I was a bit indulgent (but they loved it) as I ended by telling them how the cave has been worth it for me. I apologized for the mushiness (and don't worry, my conclusion wasn't as long as this blog post), but I told them that out of everything, my biggest prize from the cave was finding my husband.
Husband. That's right, husband. Who knew I would find my husband there? HIGHLY unlikely. Tons of cute, young, female rangers to choose from and he picked me, the chubby girl ten years older! I was enumerating all of these other blessings in my prayer yesterday morning and then sort of chuckled to myself and said, "Oh yeah, Heavenly Father, and let's not forget finding my husband! I certainly thank Thee for that." When I signed myself up for rangering, I was focused on not wasting my summers by watching too much television. I wanted to EXERCISE. I wanted to try this neat ranger thing. I wanted to help. Serve. Wear the badge (the green pants, the flat hat). Supplement my income. Be cool like Kristen. And somehow I got married. In the House of the Lord. For time and all eternity. To a VERY nice man. A Sweetie. A GOOD man! A man who loves me so much that he can't even believe it. How LUCKY am I???
So lucky. So blessed. So incredibly blessed. Blessed by a cave. A forty-three degree cave that's hard to get to on some days. I love you, Cave. I love you for all these reasons and more, but I have this Other Job...another Huge Responsibility. It's time to Be With The Children who are coming in a few days. I must Teach. It's one of my gifts. And then I will spend my days off with that Husband you gave me. Thank you, Cave. Thank you for all of these things.
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