At the suggestion of someone highly respected by the blog, we have decided to pause from our normal fare and ask everyone to set aside their different points of view and instead unite in prayer around something much more important than the goings-on in the Archdiocese of Boston, including the ongoing parish “vigils” we last wrote about.
That something is the situation facing the Chilean miners trapped in an underground mine for 68 days now, along with all working on the rescue effort. As most people know, 33 miners been trapped in a mine a half-mile under the surface of the earth for 68 days. This email we received conveys a beautiful way of thinking about the precarious situation in Chile and need for prayer:
The miners have been in crisis for 68 days. A small conduit for oxygen, communication and basic supplies reached them 20 days after the collapse. This in itself was a small miracle. What has transpired since then illustrates the enormous capacity of humans to come together for the good of others — people they have never met. Imagine the prayers that have already been offered for these men.
A shaft has been drilled to rescue the miners, as we have all read and heard. But the details of that plan reveal Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Courage (Fortitude), Knowledge, and I’m going to venture, Piety and Awe (Fear of the Lord).
Mining engineers, drill operators, geologists, physicians, and the Navy personnel have all worked side by side, in two languages, for men they have never met. Alongside this effort, literally, is a tent city of the family members of the men, who have held a real vigil at the mine entrance for 68 days.
The plan is to bring the men out in a 22″ diameter steel capsule, designed with the expertise of NASA engineers. (Your kitchen stove is 30″ across, so you picture it.) One at a time, each man secured inside the tube will be equipped with two-way communication and fitted with an oxygen mask. The shaft is 1/2 mile long, and it will take up to 40 minutes to transport each person the half-mile distance. During that path, the capsule will rotate 360 degrees 10-12 times. This is in order to reduce the possibility of trauma to the shaft walls and sparks. It will take about 2 days to get all of the men to the surface, and that’s if everything goes well. The men in the mine have all expressed the desire to be the last one out — no one of them wants to leave another behind.
The shaft has just been reinforced near the outside opening, but not further down. The geologists describe the walls further along the shaft to the miners as “confident rock.” Yet from where the miners are trapped, they still fear that the rescue effort could cause the roof of the mine to collapse.
Here’s where it really gets down to the Holy Spirit. The men have been triaged by the surface team to determine, based on their condition, in which order they should surface. The men will be on a liquid diet and must be prepared for the journey inside the tube to avoid nausea from the rotating motion. They have already sent aspirin down to the men with daily dosing instructions, in order to prevent blood clots from forming during their journey in the tube — tight quarters. When the US Navy doc in charge was asked what he believed to be the greatest threat to the success of getting a man to the surface, he replied, “panic.” The ascent can also cause in muscular or respiratory problems, and the miners face medical or psychological risks as well after they are rescued.
And now for the definition of Courage (note capital “C”). Four rescuers—2 engineers and 2 naval special forces paramedics have volunteered to take the tube down into the mine to prepare the men mentally and physically for the journey to the surface. The paramedics will examine each of the 33 men and finalize the order in which the men will ascend. They will supervise their nutrition, hydration, and psychological well-being. The first miner is to enter the tube early Wednesday morning if all goes well. And the medics will be the last men out.
Learning from their remarkable example, let us unite in prayer for the miners and for their families who have kept vigil. And let us also pray for those who have achieved great unity across disciplines, languages, and politics to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem–for the geo-scientists, sand hogs (underground miners), doctors, engineers, linguists, and all those who have come together in Chile to use their every gift in an effort to save the lives of the miners. And especially for those Navy medics, who willingly take on this remarkable mission of courage and personal risk, to care for and rescue 33 men they have never met.
We suggest that all those who read this blog send the link for this entry to as many people as possible, and urge everyone to unite in prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue showering down upon the Chilean Miners and all those who work and hope on their behalf.