The Bear Cave
Did anyone else have that weird kid at their school that had an extensive rock collection and spent hours testing a quartz rock because they mistakenly thought they found a diamond? Because that was me. It was no surprise that the novel, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne became my favorite book and that I am now writing a column unearthing the wonders of geology.
“Journey to the Center of the Earth” depicts a passionate geologist named Otto Lidenbrock taking his reluctant, cautious nephew with him on a fool’s journey to follow a trail of clues left behind from a famous explorer. They team up with a mountain guide from Iceland and, together, they descend into the center of the Earth.
In defiance of all reason and the entire scientific community, Lidenbrock and his nephew embark on a perilous adventure where they prove their contemporaries wrong and discover an entire underground world. Their story is full of mishaps, subterranean sea monsters, a forest of giant mushrooms, a volcanic eruption, an eccentric scientist’s whims and, of course, geology.
I admit that this story only encouraged my younger self’s wild imagination to dream up the grand discoveries I would make as a geophysicist in my own right. Fast forward seven years and I’m still not a geophysicist or an explorer; I’m just an accounting major.
My younger self would have balked at the idea of future me creating financial statements instead of slinking into one of Earth’s vast unexplored caves. After all, what else is a girl supposed to think when stories of grand adventure are the expectations she places on life?
I summarize one of my favorite adventure books, not to show how different my life is from the one I thought it’d be, but to show that that’s okay. It’s too easy to read about awe-inspiring scientific progress, or even look at completely fictional stories, and think, “Why aren’t I making an impact like that? Why can’t I have an adventure?”
To anyone asking themselves that question, go outside and take a look around you. Stare up at the sky and become mesmerized by the shifting clouds. Feel the wind slowly creep across your skin before turning into a gust. Study the line of ants marching through the grass. And, yes, pick up a stray rock and feel the weight of it in your hand.
Though it may not look like much on the surface, that rock has traveled through the layers of the earth, has been eroded, has been chemically changed and was maybe even once part of a great mountain. All that weathering brought it to where it is today.
It can be so easy to look at yourself and only see a plain beige shard of limestone or a mismatched conglomerate rock. But God is working in your life and shaping you like the forces that shape the Earth.
You don’t have to study for years to get your doctorate degree in some science field to look at the world around you and know who made it, to look at yourself and know you’re in God’s hands. You don’t need to feel like you must leave your mark on this world or else it will forget about you.
Don’t get me wrong, geologists go on some cool adventures and they’ve greatly contributed to society. Some travel across the world to conduct research. Cave explorers see parts of the Earth less than a hundred people will ever glimpse. Volcanologists brave an active volcano to catch footage of an eruption.
But I’m content just being an accounting major and what you might call a “geology hobbyist.” I might see a volcano erupt or explore a hidden cavern — I might not. Either way, I know I can trust that whatever God has planned for me will be good. It doesn’t really matter if I discover a subterranean ocean and name it after myself or if I escaped from the clutches of death by riding a raft up a volcanic tube like Lidenbrock did.
So, yes, this column will chronicle some amazing geological facts and finds. But you should also know that the God who layered the Earth is far more exciting than any scientific adventure, and to be one of the rocks he holds in his hands is far more fulfilling than being a renowned explorer.
Bear is the feature editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X