Wednesday was a good day.
33 men thought lost were found. After 69 days shrouded beneath 700 metres of rock thousands of journalists with their cameras, politicians with their speeches and family members with their tears, bore witness to this dramatic salvation.
This was a mesmerising story from the moment the mine collapsed, leaving little hope that anyone would come out alive. It took 17 nerve-wracking days for any contact to be made. In those first two weeks, it was like searching for a needle in a haystack as boreholes the size of a grapefruit were sent deep underground. The seventh attempt returned with a scribbled note attached, the simple red lines on a scrap of paper offering the first glimpse of this 'almost Biblical rebirth'.
It could have so easily ended in a very different way. This was life out of death; it was rescue from the jaws of tragedy. And it made for a great news story. Not just great, but good. Amid a back drop of suffering and pain, economic recession and global poverty, for a few days the world has rejoiced.
And cultures have collided. In the light of such remarkable human ingenuity and courage it was God and not man that was praised. Each man stepped out of the capsule that had shuttled through nearly half a mile of earth and rock with 'To Him be the glory and honour' blazoned across their shirts. Even the somewhat sceptical British press struggled to define this remarkable escape as anything but a miracle. Mario Sepulveda, the second miner rescued was in no doubt where credit was due, 'I was with God and I was with the Devil, they fought me, but God won. He took me by my best hand, the hand of God and I held on to him. I never thought for one minute that God wouldn't get me out of there'.
I do not know whether this was a miracle. Maybe even asking the question betrays my innate scepticism, maybe I am being too rigid in my categories. Maybe God can work miracles through our endeavours. Maybe the work of a surgeon in a hospital theatre is as much a witness to God's involvement in our lives as the prayers said at the front of church. I am reminded of the story of a man stranded by a flood who turns away a rescue boat, and then a helicopter because he is waiting for God to save him. The miners in
did not turn away the rescue capsule, nor were they in any doubt that God had saved them. Chile
We can have it both ways. We can believe in supernatural intervention, where that which was thought impossible is achieved by God. But we can also rejoice as a man reaches down into the depths of the earth and helps his fellow man to the surface.
I joined with the estimated audience of a billion rejoicing yesterday. I joined with many of those who were thanking God. I took time to think of those who have not been granted a little more time, those who die from preventable diseases, lost in accidents and natural disasters, those killed in battle or in peace.
And I wondered whether I share the same enthusiasm to see people rescued beyond their present life. Am I as eager to see the world know God as their saviour as I was when I awoke on Thursday to find that the last of the miners had made it to safety?
Danny Webster - Parliamentary Officer