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Going Underground to Beat the Heat

By Madeline Shelton

Luckily for everyone, the prone position has fallen out of fashion in liturgical observance save for a few rare moments on Good Friday. Whew! But I think perhaps “reading the epistles in a prone position” is the Dean’s way of recommending an afternoon siesta. The siesta is a fantastic way to avoid the sweltering heat of the afternoon – unless you have a three hour post-lunch elective. Then it is sweet torture to fight against the drooping eyelids as you daydream about that quiet and cool basement corner of Booher library.

But Booher library isn’t the only cool underground spot in a town not known for basements. In fact, both Inner Space and Natural Bridge caverns are a short drive from the Seminary in Georgetown and New Braunfels respectively. Both were discovered in the last 60 years by accident. Austin sits on top of limestone, with the large Edwards Aquifer running underneath. As the water eats away the limestone, we’re lucky to have these beautiful caves. Both Inner Space and Natural Bridge hold some fantastic examples of giant Stalactites and Stalagmites (remember – Stalactites hold tight to the ceiling, and Stalagmites might grow tall) with wacky names like “Old man’s beard” and “Fairy Castle”. Both caves stay a year round 72 degrees F. Boo-ya, Booher! But we won’t talk about cave humidity.

As the new Church History Professor, you could always pull an early church move and have your first class in a cave. Christianity has a long tradition of utilizing caves for worship, meditation, and teaching. How better to learn about desert monasticism than while in a cave? Or imagine the Christ Chapel choir singing choral morning prayer in the echoing acoustics of an underground cavern. Or the Great Vigil of Easter processing with the new fire out of the mouth of a cave in central Texas. No one would worry about the heat or broken AC then. But I suppose if all else fails, the Basement of Booher library could be a suitable alternative. And an afternoon siesta just might be the best antidote to the heat.

Madeline Shelton is a senior in the Master of Divinity program at Seminary of the Southwest and hails from the Diocese of Texas.  When Maddie is not exploring the great caves around Austin, she can be found rooting around in the nearest community garden.


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