Like so many others, I recently watched the unfolding of the gut wrenching process of extricating 33 Chilean miners from the very entrails of the earth where they became captive for 69 harrowing days after the section of the mine they were in caved in on them.
(What a real life claustrophobic, anxiety producing, fear inducing and oxygen depriving chapter to the Jules Verne fictional story, Journey to the Center of the Earth.) Unlike the Verne story, this was not just a work of fiction or science-fiction but a real live story with real live players.
As I watched the rescue process unfold, I learned of six brave men who risked their lives to go down over 2,000 feet through a very narrow shaft, in an even narrower capsule, to the bottom of the earth to help those 33 trapped miners on their journey back to earth and to life.
This real live chapter addition to the Jules Verne story, Journey to the Center of the Earth, is filled with all of the elements of dangerous, breathtaking moments, harrowing experiences and questions (are they breathing? How can they breathe? Are they surviving well? How can they survive? Are they losing their minds? How can they not lose their minds? Are they eating? What are they eating?) that anyone could possibly imagine which make up a good piece of fiction minus the encounter with the ghosts of miners who previously died in other cave-ins of the mine, as feared by one of the miners; nor does it feature an encounter with the prehistoric man eating creatures featured in the Verne story.
Written by Life and the very universe itself, this is a chapter in connectedness, bravery, courage, love, faith, and hope. It is a chapter in which, like the miners; the President of Chile and the Chilean people; I believe the Hand of God itself played a part providing the players and their audience with the incredible outcome so many thought would not be possible, but which so many of us watched from the comfort of our living rooms, or supersized television screens in waiting rooms or store windows throughout the globe unfold to a very happy denouement.
This story of Love, Faith and Hope is also the story of persistence and connectedness in putting together the disassembled parts of a large puzzle (not unlike like the shattered pieces of a horrifying nightmare one is trying to understand) into the unified and cohesive whole which set in motion the machinery that ultimately brought the miners to safety.
This story is one of the threads of connectedness between the miners, their families, their nation, their President, their Minister of Mines and all of those who were involved in the planning and eventual carrying out of the rescue operation of said 33 miners, it is also the story of their connectedness to a world which heard and heeded their plea for help and suspended, for a while the animosity and unfavorable light cast on illegal immigrants, here in America, whose physique is amazingly similar to that of those 33 Chilean miners in the cave in.
Much was made of the number 33 throughout the coverage of the unfolding of the story, from the suspenseful moments before the capsule was sent half way to its destination on a trial basis to make sure its descent would not cause another cave in, to the moment when the last miner was brought up to the surface. The television heads covering the story all referred to number 33 as if the number contained something special in it, as if it held a special code or a magical power. They said there were 33 miners who were rescued on 10/13/10. They added that the sum of 10+13+10 equaled the number 33. None of them, except for one host in a Spanish television station mentioned that, 33, signifies for Christians around the world, the age of Christ at his death.
Perhaps a miracle was really unfolding within the story from its very beginning.
Everyone marveled, including the miners themselves, that this cave in produced no wounded; no dead.
This is a story that makes any believer wonder if the Mercy of Christ was with each of the miners when the cave in occurred. And, wonder further if there was a purpose to the cave in, not only to bring about some change in the lives of miners and their families in general, or of their country and their President, but in the rest of the word as well?
As mentioned above, the physical appearance of all these
miners closely resembles the physical appearance of those Hispanics who are
currently being persecuted throughout the United States by the recent Arizona
and other states' anti Immigration laws, and by the likes of politicians and
right wingers who refer to immigrants from south of the border as the, "squat
and drop" people who should, along with their babies be sent right back
to South of the border. (All of this makes me wonder if, this morning when, at the
end of Kerry Sanders' update on the miners, Chuck Todd said, "Good. That
is where they all belong," Todd was really referring to the letters the miners
said they left buried in the mine, a point he felt he needed to make clear after he made the statement
or if he was, by some Freudian slip telling us how he really feels about the many Hispanics in this country whose physique so closely resembles that of the 33 miners. r
On the day of the rescue I was rendered speechless by all of the American television anchors and t.v. talk show heads who hailed all these 33 miners as heroes or men with an extraordinary will to live, praising the brotherhood they formed to keep themselves alive, yet ignoring the extraordinary resemblance the 33 miners hold to their persecuted Hispanic brothers in this very country which has now put the fear of God in them, made them society scumbags, shackling them in prison walls prior to their being deported back to their countries of origin.)
This is the story of a right-wing President with a heart who made no class distinction when called upon to save the lives of the 33 workers; a President that cared enough to do everything within his power to bring the miners to safety and to keep their families close by to the rescue efforts in what became known as Camp Hope (Campo Esperanza.) A President who said there must be not just one plan for the rescue of the men, but there must be a plan A, a plan B, and a Plan C. A President who placed the value of human life above class status, who did not shrug off the gravity of the situation in which the miners found themselves, or of the rescue efforts involved in bringing them back to safety and to life on the surface of the earth. This is a story too about the goodwill of a world in which sometimes goodwill goes hiding down to well below the surface of the earth but chose to extend helping hand this time when cries for help came knocking at its door.
This is a story about asking the world for help and receiving it. It is the story of having the wisdom to knock on the door of the NASA space agency--the agency credited with an incredible wealth of gathered information about rocks, rock formations and lunar landings. NASA opened a welcome mat and helped in the design of the capsule that brought the 33 miners to safety.
NASA helped design a capsule which would make the men not feel confined on their journey back up to the surface of the earth, though they were confined; a capsule with shock absorber wheels to cushion the journey of the capsule and the men in it as they rode back to the surface of the earth on a very jolting ride of bumps and turns through the uneven formation of rock along the way. It is the story of remarkable engineering design and the willingness to share, in the case of a Pennsylvania mine drilling machinery maker with a new untested drill who he thought the untested drill could penetrate the dense formation of rock blocking the exit of the 33 miners. It is the story of the gracious acceptance of the drill which became the bulldozer that opened up the escape hatch for the miners to back to surface light.