G O D I N A G O D F O R S A K E N L A N D  31 “What is the goal?” I queried, straining to insert the shovel into the earth one more time. “Coal, of course. It’s in my blood; I live for it.” I realized then that I was not a coal miner, only a worker paid to be there. I knew I must look for more to satisfy my life. As we worked each day in the raw end of the tunnel, earth threatening to collapse before it could be shored up, we under- stood the danger of our job. The tales of mining accidents were prevalent. Mostly there were bruises, cuts, or the occasional bro- ken bone. We were most fortunate up to that point that no one was killed in our mine. I wondered some days if God extended his jurisdiction to this underground world. At times I also wondered if my prodigal ex- istence here was some kind of repayment for leaving my home- land. Yet, the feeling, even here in the bowels of the earth, was of optimism and freedom. Not one of us felt we must stay if we didn’t want to stay. Some of us would go on. Others, like Hans, found this to be their goal and looked no further. After working in the darkness of a coal mine for so long, the sounds became the focus of my reality. Conversations seemed muted, yet the sounds of rock on metal or the iron wheels of the hopper car turning seemed magnified. And so the poppity-pop of the beams sagging and crashing seemed to leap to my hearing. I looked toward the sound, but nothing was visible in the coal black tunnel until I flashed my lamp and saw only the trickle of earth flow to the floor. I caught only the sound and a glimpse of a shadow as a large figure fell to the floor. I heard him in German. Hans and I always spoke German since we had both emigrated from Germany. His voice screamed, “Helfen Sie mir!” It was his shadow I had seen fall, and he needed help. I ran to the sound and then I saw him in my feeble lamplight, half covered in earth, struggling to free himself yet not moving at all. As the earth continued to pour in around him, I frantically