Aberfan

August 25, 2010 — Leave a comment

Questions asked in the introduction to a book I read around 10 years ago still surface in my mind when I find myself confronted by people who are facing a crisis in their lives or what they might describe as a catastrophe.

The author is speaking from the perspective of a leader and pastor of a large successful church in the Atlanta area

“I spend a substantial amount of time with people who are digging themselves out from personal catastrophes- circumstances that were years in the making but ”took them by surprise”. A broken marriage, an unwanted pregnancy, a financial crisis or an emergency of another sort. As I listen, two questions race through my mind: Why is it that we have such a difficult time recognizing the traps we lay for ourselves? And What could this individual have done to avoid this situation?”

The illustration that Andy Stanley uses before he writes this paragraph is particularly real to me and to my generation who remember the tragedy he writes about.

He refers to a tragedy that struck a small village in the heartland of Wales that virtually wiped out a whole generation of a village called Aberfan. On 21 October 1966, a mountain of coal waste, known as a coal tip, collapsed into homes and a school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

The story of the tragedy can be watched below. In a matter of seconds the face of Aberfan had changed forever.

The “tip” or mountain of coal waste that  had become a natural part of the landscape  hadn’t appeared overnight. Since 1870 the pile of mining debris had been rising gradually from the valley floor.

Andy Stanley sums the event up like this:

“For years, the people of Aberfan had worked to build their community. The giant coal mountain stood like the centrepiece of a city carved out of the Welsh landscape by years of diligent labour. It was a growing legacy left for each passing generation. But in the course of one day all of that changed. Not because of the events of a particular day. No, it was a day that had been in the making for some time.”

Very often the crises we face, the problems that are suddenly huge have been in the making a long time. I wonder if some of my actions, some of my daily habits are contributing to a problem that I or even the next generation will have to deal with!

Another of Andy Stanley’s books published very recently has a chapter with the title “Should have seen that coming”. Just one chapter of many that can help us avoid arriving at destinations that we don’t want to arrive at. The name of the book is “The name of the book is “The Principle of the path”.

Take a little time to ask what legacy you are building based on the actions or non actions you are currently taking.

Wyn Jones

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