October 15, 2010


Like the rest of the world I have been gripped and bouyed up by the incredible rescue of the Chilean miners this week.

I have been struck by some astounding details within the astounding big story.

Firstly, it is impossible to ignore the extraordinary, surreal symbolism of the whole event. 33 miners swallowed by the earth, like Jonah into the whale, and spat out again 1,600 hours later. Together, 33 men gestating in the belly of the earth, finally to be born, staggering and blinking into the daylight via a lonely 16 minute journey up a shaft, and into the arms of emotional families, sobbing with relief and joy. The President greeted each miner with the words, "Welcome to life", the re-birthing complete. What the 'new' life will present to each man is impossible to guess, but surely their lives will be marked and changed forever by their experiences.

People talk of it being a miracle, Diego Maradona was apparently tweeting from Argentina yesterday, "Miracles do exist". I think there have been so many miracles in this story - miraculous patience and discipline of the miners (who apparently survived on two spoons of tuna and a sip of milk every 48 hours for the first 17 days), the miracle of modern engineering and science that enabled the rescue, the fact that one man could watch the birth of his child via a video-link sent down a bore-hole no wider than an orange, the miracle that none of the men lost their minds or the will to live, never knowing for sure if they would survive...so many miracles in the face of dire predictions and unimaginably dreadful possibilities.

Most poignant of all to me, having a 7 year old son myself, was to see the son of one of the miners, crying on seeing his father emerge, hugging him, crying some more and finally laughing with him. Well done to The Times for finding the words of Chile's most famous poet, Pablo Neruda: "My struggle is harsh and I come back with eyes tired at times from having seen the unchanging earth, but when your laughter enters it rises to the sky seeking me and it opens for me all the doors of life".

It is a story, and a set of smaller stories, of what is possible, what miracles can be found when human skill and will and heart is utterly committed to positive action. Some of the miners have pointed to God as the bringer of this miracle and individual faith has clearly been a huge factor for many of the men. Science has also saved them. God and science brought together in the Atacama desert. Faith, hope, leadership and solidarity have been shown to be vital, the President of Chile has reminded us. Not fashionable words, or new, but a reminder. The eldest miner, as if to shed light on life for the rest of us, said, "Sometimes you need something to happen in your life to really reflect and understand that we only have one life. I am a different person". Words to live by.


  1. This may be the most beautifully written response to the miracle of the miners.

    I'm proud to know you and your fine mind.

    xo Jane

  2. Jane, I so nearly didn't post this because whenever I attempt to write, or indeed,just talk about extreme events, private or public, the fear of crassness, over-simplifying, resorting to the boringly obvious, or worse, platitudes, tends to cripple my confidence and shut my mouth. So to be praised, and by such a gifted wordsmith, is lovely and so encouraging - thank you.

  3. So beautifully said. Keep that mouth open, you write very well.

  4. Dangerous words, Webb! But, so very kind and you have my heartfelt appreciation for them.x

  5. Your post made me cry, Belinda. That was so beautifully worded.


  6. I got a bit choked up watching it, thinking about it and writing about it! Reminds me of the Apollo rescue - provokes same feelings, people rescued from space and the bowels of the earth and kept safe. Hope it was ok crying not sad crying. Thanks for such a lovely comment. x

  7. Sorry, Sarah, comment above to you!xxxx

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  9. I know how you felt, it was very emotional once they were reaching the surface. I mentioned the miners a couple of times in my posts last week.
    Jackie in Surrey.

  10. There was so much relief around the world. Thanks for visiting and commenting Jackie.

  11. Dear Belinda, What an absolutely beautifully written tribute to the Chilean miners. A tale indeed of faith and hope and, ultimately, rebirth. It is so true that such life-threatening experiences can, sometimes, turn on their heads and be life- enhancing as one becomes so acutely aware of the fine line we all tread between life and death.
    As I listened to the World Service in the early hours and heard each miner 'welcomed back to life' it made me so grateful for the simple pleasures that everyday life brings.

    I am so really sorry as I thought that I had signed up previously as one of your 'Followers' and now realise that this wasnot the case. I am now fully signed up and look forward to your future postings.

  12. Amazing how that story touched so many people all over the world. God is good.

  13. Hi Belinda,

    You wrote a beautiful tribute to the miners and Chile. I was in Paris when I saw some of the miners coming up one by one. It made my day!

    Wish you a happy evening!

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  14. Edith, thank you for your kind comments and interesting observations. Delighted to have you as a follower! Promise no more mentions of the dreaded skateparks!

    Becky and Madelief, thank you for your comments, I think this was an event that touched us all.xx

  15. I´m so happy reading your hearfelt words and wonderful reflections about this amazing miracle and science together and the will of many people who worked very hard to get them out, and of course the miners who have inherited the courage of their parents who also were miners, most of them.
    Thank you.
    You visited at my little shop blog, hope you visit me at my personal blog when you have the time.
    hugs from Chile,
    maria cecilia
    p.s. excuse my english, please.

  16. Hi, maria cecilia, so touched that the post was ok in the eyes of a Chilean.Those miners must have courage in their genes as you say. I will visit your personal blog today! Belinda x ps. your English is beautiful!