It’s already shaping up to be a record-breaking year for our overworked local search and rescue groups, as they pull scores of out of bound skiers, ill-equipped hikers and overly ambitious mountaineers out of danger. The local media have even developed a bit of a formula for reporting these events. Typically an opening shot of the rescue helicopter descending to search base, and disgorging a bevy of sheepish looking skiers or hikers, followed by a clip where the newly rescued blubber a few words of thanks, and ending with a spokesman for search and rescue gravely admonishing the public to be better prepared when they venture into the wilderness on our doorstep.
Inevitably there is a debate as to whether or not the feckless hikers ought to be charged something for their rescue or fined for their stupidity. The authorities of course are reluctant to introduce financial consequences into the rescue equation for fear that those in need of help might then be reluctant to seek it for fear of those financial consequences, and in the end creating a much worse result. The occasional hiker apparently does repay the favor with a donation to Search and Rescue, but most I suspect simply shuffle off, their fifteen minutes of fame having expired.
Against that background I can’t help but think of the incredible rescue effort recently concluded that miraculously saved the entire Wild Boar soccer club from a Thai cave. it was a rescue effort that had us all glued to our screens and shaking our heads in disbelief.
What really struck me in the aftermath of the Thai cave rescue was the announcement that upon discharge from hospital, and after a brief reunion with their families, the team will, en-masse, enroll as novice monks and will spend a week as such in a nearby monastery, doing penance in quiet prayer and contemplation. That they would do this shows a deep respect for the enormity of the miracle which with they have been blessed, and towards those who made it happen. It is a fitting, and elegant gesture.
As my thoughts stray back to our local North Shore mountains, the concept of penance following rescue develops a certain resonance. Should rescued parties be subject to something a little more onerous than the loss of their lift pass privileges ? -such as a week of silent navel gazing in austere surrounding?
We don’t have a lot of monasteries in BC , but it strikes me that we do have a number of boarded up correction camps- relics from an age where boot camp style training was considered the panacea for youth corrections. So, imagine if the price of rescue was a week spent as a monk in a re-purposed correctional camp, contemplating the error of one’s ways ?