Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Praying - Hoping - Grieving; The Life of a Mining Family

The look on Gov. Manchin's face tells the story of a long week in a coal mining community in WV. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of the coal mine explosion on April 5, 2010 in Montcoal, WV. The community - as well as the state, nation, and world - started praying once the news was released of the mine blast that had taken the life of seven miners; two injured; and 22 who were missing. All were praying for the safety of those missing and that the would be rescued. Sadly, the week went from hoping for a miracle to the realization that 29 men had lost their lives. Last week was a week of praying - hoping - and now the grieving has begun.

In the beginning, the extraction of coal from the earth was generally done close to the surface. As the realization of the importance of coal and the impact it had on the economy and the industrial aspects, new techniques needed to be used. Holes were dug into the side of the moutains when a vein of coal was located. In the early days, birds were placed in cages to help warn the miners of the "bad air" that could cause their deaths. If the bird died, then the miners had better leave that area Ventilization pland have been put into the mines to help with these problems. Modern technology has meters that read the air qualities, which is suppose to help the miners. None of these new and modern tecnological means are 100% safe. Miners enter the mine each day not knowing if it's for the last time.

A coal company provided not only a job but a unique way of life for the miners and their families. Since most of the mines were located too far from established towns, the coal companies built their own towns and provided inexpensive homes, a company store, a church, and often recreation facilities for the miners and their families. Because of the need for daily supplies from the company store, a simplified method of bookkeeping was established, using coal scrip.

These communities became a means for generations to support their families. Grandfathers, sons, grandsons, uncles, nephews, and as the years went by women went into the mines day after day. Many families lived in the small houses near the mine until transportation became more available and cars were affordable. The mining camps soon became a thing of the past as they were once known.

I had many family members who worked in the mines and ended up with "black lung." They worked these mines before many of the safety features they have in place today were implemented. Granted, there is probably a lot that still needs to be done to make working in the mines even safer. It appears to be a never ending battle for all involved to come up with plans and keep them updated in making all mines safe.

As I heard a miner said today on the news: "You know what could happen each time you enter the mine, but it is how I support my family. You just have to push these thought of what could happen to the back of your mind and not think about them!" The fear that the miners and their family, as well as the mining community, live with has to be a heart wrenching decision to stay where they are - especially after a mining accident.

When I look at a picture of the entrance of what many of the coal mines in WV use to look like, I wonder how can anyone go into that dark hole in the side of a mointain? Not all mine entrances look like this now, but in the beginning, this was what they faced when going to work. Yes, many changes have taken place, but most mines are still entered by the miners riding a mine car deep into the side of the mountain!

The final trip from the mine for these 29 miners was a sombering scene for all who witnessed it in person or on the news. These men were hard working men who were trying to make a living for their family doing something they knew the dangers that went along with this job. We pray that they are at peace and that their families will find comfort as they go on with their life!

There are many miner's prayers, songs, and tributes out theie that could sum up what it is like being a miner and/or a member of his family. A song has been running through my mind for weeks. It is a song with a message that we could relate to - things happening in our lives whuch may be turning our lived upside down. They may not be of the magnitude that these miners' families are going through, but our lives are still in turmoil.
"When You Believe" is an Academy Award-winning song composed by Stephen Schwartz for the 1998 DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt. It is one that stays with you once you heard it.

A couple of weeks ago we saw Celtic Woman in concert. This was one of the song Chloe sang. It was mesmerizing. Their are many others who haave sung it, but Chloe's voice is the one I hear. This was the song that has constantly been going through my head since I heard Chloe sing it on stage!!! If you haven't heard her, Mariah Carey, whitney Houston, just to name a few, sing it -please do so. It gives us hope that whatever may be weighing heavy on our hearts if we believe, miracles may happen.

Saddly, the miracle that we all were hoping and praying for did not happen. Why? It was not in God's plan! Yes, this is hard to understand, but we must believe in His Word!

I am going to post the lyrics for this song and pray you will believe in miracles!

When You Believe

Many nights we've prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song we barely understood
Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were climbing mountains long before we knew we could

There can be miracles when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you believe

In this time of fear
When prayer so often proved in vain
Hope seemed like the summer birds to swiftly blown away
Yet now I'm standing here
With heart so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words I never thought I'd say

(repeat chorus)

Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you

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