Monday, June 25, 2007

Gold Mine

On Sunday, Kyle and I went "jeeping." He bought an older jeep from his boss back in January. This past weekend was the first time we could take it out and experience summer in it. We drove to a road south of Alma, hoping to cross Mosquito Pass toward Leadville. However, the road was still closed due to snow at the summit. We found some great trails to explore, though. I was jostled around in my seat quite a bit. It was great!

One of the roads we were on passed by an old mine. Naturally, we had to explore. The building looked like it was about to fall over at any moment, but Kyle still scaled the steps and rafters to explore the three stories. Even though he told me it was still well-built and sturdy, I stuck to the first stairway and let him wander without me. We also investigated the surrounding buildings, bunkhouses and outhouses. One of the houses still had painted patches of plaster on the walls and the skeleton of an old stove in the kitchen. It was pretty amazing to be walking through history like that.

There were two men panning for gold in the river that ran by the mine. Kyle and I each found tiny nuggets of a gold-colored metal, so we decided to ask them how you could tell if something was gold or not. Finally, Kyle showed him the itty bitty piece he had found and the man said, "No, that's a cubular piece of pyrite or some other kind of metallic substance. If it were gold, it would flatten in response to pressure, not break apart. Also, even if you shade gold, it will continue to shine, rather than going flat like this." Bummer. But at least we have a sample of what is not gold... Any guesses as to what Kyle bought on EBay the day after our excursion? A gold panning kit! You never know...

As we were walking around the area of the mine, the ground, the river, everything, shimmered. It turns out there is a lot of mica in the area, which shines with a golden tone when the lit hits it. It made me think of how crazy it must have driven those miners. You're looking for the real thing, yet there are shimmering imposters all around you, all the time. Not to mention the concentration of pyrite (fool's gold) in the area... I wonder if anyone ever saw real gold and wrote it off because they were so used to seeing the fake stuff so regularly? A shimmer with no value; how misleading. How many things surround us every day that have those same properties--they appear to be promising, but they're worth nothing in the end...

I tried to find a description online of how to identify gold, and one contributor said something to the effect of, "Once you find gold in your pan you'll never have trouble identifying it again. Once you've seen the real thing, you know what you're looking for from then on and you'll never be fooled again."

So, maybe that's the key. You have to see the real thing in order to be able to identify the fakes. Until then, many things can appear to be true and valuable, even if they're not.

Lord, may I see the world through what I know to be real, so that everything fake loses its misleading allure and appeal.

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