Footfalls are swallowed by wave after wave of greenish moss.
The path through here is worn, stepped smooth by hundreds and hundreds of sandaled and bare feet that skipped, walked, ran to meet Those Who Left. Swaths of cave wall are marked in milk chalk and charcoal drawings, love letters to the Dead who still watch over those not yet gone.
Somewhere in the distance, the sound of water can be heard, not just the trickle of springs pouring down rocks polished to a glassy shine, but a more substantial murmur, an undercurrent of song that reverberates through the long-standing stone, pulses, promises to sync up with your heartbeat, and show you the path with better clarity.
Each new cavern is somehow both darker and brighter than the last, going further into the wedge that exists between life and the underworld. In one, arching towers of stone spiral up from the cave floor toward the ceiling, while in the next, small shrines devoted to helpful spirits bear flowers, arrowheads, small cakes.
The caverns grow warmer, in the descent, as though heading further into the womb of the world, where life becomes death becomes rebirth, and the sound of the water has turned into not only a murmur, but a veritable symphony of whispering.
Wonder and promise are here, as are stability, connection, family, tradition — from the youngest child brought here to understand his connection to the earth, to the oldest crone who will be wrapped in her warmest cloak, to sleep with her cheek pressed to the earth’s cheek, to breathe with the earth’s breath, and listen to its final lullabye.
Part library, part ossuary, part museum, part journey, part story, part legend, part heritage, part blood, part promise, and wholly suffused with the memories of those whose lives are profound without revolution, because they know of cycles, circles, of every ending becoming a new beginning.
The caverns themselves tell a thousand stories that no living soul might know in fullness; each trip into them reveals more about the path, and more about those on it, than was known before.