Culm Banks, Coal Slides, and the Cry of the Poor in Spirit
There was something fun and exhilerating, not to mention incredibly dirty, about all that, but I wanted to use it as an illustration of the human condition. I think that human history is really the story of the children of Adam struggling against the remorseless avalanche of decay to which the world has been subjected since the Fall. What we call "civilization," with all its obvious benefits (for which I thank my God), is still nothing more than a vast tower of Babble. For all these years we've been trying to regain paradise by our own will, ingenuity, strength.
That's the macro-level, I guess you could say, the micro-level is in our own personal lives and circumstances. Trying to beat the rap, come out on top, look good, stay young, prove ourselves right in all cases. Trying to command respect. Trying to win, and if we can't win, trying to look like a winner anyway.
Just like me and my friends trying to climb to the top of the culm bank (and by the way, if you've ever seen one of these, you'll know that paradise is not at the top, but nevermind), we're not getting anywhere but the bottom, covered with black soot and dirt.
What does it mean to be "poor in spirit"? It means, to give up this fruitless and hubristic struggle to "reach the top," to be as gods. To give up, to sit at the bottom of the culm bank and cry out, "God, save me, for I cannot save myself."
Click here to see The Miner's Prayer.