Job 30:3 Through want and hard hunger they gnaw the dry and desolate ground.

I grew up on the outskirts of coal country, where mining is more than a job—it also brings a sense of self to those who work the mines. Coal has fallen out of favour in search of cleaner energy—the job losses are as violent an extraction as the mining process itself— but there is so much to be learned from this part of the United States in terms of identity and place. As a person plagued by placelessness, I am encouraged to constitute who I am based on where I am.

True miners seek wisdom, buried somewhere deep beyond the reach of humans. We are reminded that there is wisdom to be found in lands that have been politically and socially rejected. The people I know—the ones of the mountains and mines—are people who know and work the land, who seek to understand its ways and wisdom. 

MOVING FORWARD: Write down a remembrance of the place you were born or grew up, or live now. Share the story with a new friend.