A professor of mine called these “the coldest lines ever written”: “St. Agnes’ eve — Ah bitter chill it was/ The owl for all his feathers was a-cold/ The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass/ And silent was the flock in wooly fold./ Numb were the Beads Man’s fingers while he told his rosary ...”
Those lines from Robert Frost’s favorite poet, John Keats, remind me that despite all the panicky rumors about “global warming,” our ancient enemy, the cold, is still patiently waiting for his time to deep freeze our bones.
Our fuel bill came lately with the startling news that it was double last December’s bill, and the old implanted fear crept in with the question of what to do if, one of those -30 January nights the lights should go off for good, giving only those with a supply of firewood the fuel needed to stay alive. What if all the creature comforts: warm homes, hot food, good TV reception, gassed up cars, all vanished like smoke into a remorseless Arctic cold — our punishment, perhaps, for snubbing the faithful fossil fuels it took God millions of years to lay up for us.
If such a thing should happen, we would likely envy those snow birds who’ve flown south to where they are safe from the cold and only need to contend with wildfires, floods, mudslides, tornadoes and earthquakes. Those left behind would have to pray that those long-armed, eagle-killers — the wind generators — could suck up enough wind to generate enough juice to keep us warm. We might then even envy those good old years when tepees and sod huts enjoyed the luxury of fires fueled with buffalo dung or twisted prairie grass.
This latest New Year’s eve cold snap has prompted me to pray that the good Lord keeps our coal, natural gas and oil fires fueled and that the unwise but well-intentioned pushers of alternative power fail to shut down our supply of life-preserving fuels that actually work.
Please pardon this little “rabbit run” talking fear ... I think I’ve picked up that virus from the politicians and media alarmists who have been using the “The sky is falling!” gambit for years to scare the ingenuous into buying their messages.
My real aim in this piece is to stress my belief that our best hope lies in believing God’s “great and precious promises” (II Peter: 1: 2-4) waiting in the scriptures to be realized by faith. If I didn’t believe that the Lord truly is “my shepherd,” “my keeper,” “my tender-loving father” wanting only the best for me, I could easily fall into the black pessimism and “unhope” now infecting the world. If we can’t believe God, who can we believe?
For the fearful, a whole wolf pack of perils encircles their campsite.
Crouching just beyond the fire’s heat and light are famine, poverty, pestilence, anarchy, riot, tempests, wildfires and floods just waiting for the sick-um from the pit: “Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!”
Let me end this wake-up call with this from my favorite American poet, Robert Frost: “Some say the world will end in fire/ Some say in ice. / From what I’ve tasted of desire/ I hold with those who favor fire/ But if I had to perish twice/ I think I know enough of hate/ To know that for destruction/ lee Is also great, and would suffice.”