The rescue of the twelve boys and their coach trapped in Tham Luang caves in Thailand, for more than two weeks, has been seen as a story of great success and a miracle… and rightly so. It brought to the fore the best in humanity – love and concern for others, co-operation and collaboration, dedication to a common cause and risking oneself for the other. The incessant prayers of the family members of the young men, their country-men and of people the world over, were not in vain.
But, just prayers for their survival were not enough. Like Jesus, who risked himself at incarnation to enter the sin-logged caves of human existence, the two British divers risked their lives to find those who were trapped in the cave. Some risks had to be taken with someone risking his/her own life to venture into the water-logged caves … human efforts were the stepping-stones to help transform prayers into a reality. The risks were severe, as exemplified by the death of the retired professional Thai navy seal diver. Indeed, the old adage ‘God helps those who help themselves’ had to be put to the test and be brought to life.
While, the world often seems to be polarized by the narrative of the other as a threat, the rescue effort brought to the fore the value of unity of humanity. The ‘difference’, which so often inhibits and weakens human relationships, was transformed into a tool of strength and resolve to rescue those trapped. The rescue effort was an exhibition of the best in humanity, where religion, race, colour, community or any other differentiation was obliterated with single-minded purpose of harnessing every possible talent and specialization towards one specific goal – bringing the thirteen out of the cave alive. The mission was not just life saving, but indeed, life giving, to the trapped boys and their coach, and to their families – indeed, to the Thai nation. In a world, where politicians polarize people, we have a proof that human unity is a power, which can make a miracle happen.
The trapped boys and their coach offer us some wonderful lessons in life. They survived those nine days before they were found through their bonds of unity. They were a team on the football field and beyond, even in the darkest and most tragic moment of their lives. If they passed the ball to one another to win a game, they shared the little with one another to win the game of endurance. While the world impresses upon us to be self-centred, what an example of selflessness and sharing! In a world of consumerism, where having is equated with being, we could not have a better example of surviving on and living with the bare minimum.
In the cave, the daunting darkness, the deafening silence was surmounted by their sheer will to stay alive, supported by an undying faith that they would be found and eventually rescued. In a world where we so easily fall victims to despair, self-belief and faith is a great tool towards survival and self-preservation. Perhaps, we could draw a page from those young boys and their coach, when trapped in the cave of our pains, sufferings and misery. For those who believe, the light of faith keeps them afloat.
Lucky, for the trapped team, their coach, a Buddhist ex-monk, helped them to meditate and feel the presence of God in their lives. Meditation helped them to stay calm and not despair and to survive those nine days without food and in total darkness. Deep in Tham Luang caves, the boys were helped, by their coach, to endure and survive by entering the cave of their hearts, through meditation. Through meditation, they allowed the inner light to guide their survival. This could serve as a reminder to us to appreciate, treasure and to return to the great tradition of monasticism in the Church, which could help us find our God in the cave of our hearts.