DOWN IN FRONT
Groundhog of the Apocalypse
By David W Roach
Nature gives us fair warning to the seasons. In Texas, we know when the mesquite tree buds that the last frost has come and gone. I know this for a fact because many years ago I set out my tomato plants before the mesquite trees budded and lost every one to a late frost. When I shared my loss with my neighbor, he snorted. “You planted before the mesquite trees bud.”
This being February, we look to Punxsutawney, PA, where looks have consulted for years a groundhog named Phil. Phil knows when winter is over (Phil predicted an early Spring.)
My father knew all kinds of ways to interpret the natural world. He could look at the sky and know by its color if there would be wind or rain or sunshine ahead. My father also consulted the Old Farmers Almanac before starting a project. He said things like: “Plant by the dark of the moon.” My father wasn’t even a farmer. He was an engineer, but my father swore by the Almanac. I remember sitting down to dinner one evening and my father saying, “We’re going to have a long, dry summer.” How’d he know? The Old Farmers Almanac.
Nowadays we have satellites to forecast the weather. We can look down from space and see that clouds are flowing in from California or a hurricane is forming in the Atlantic. Weather prediction is better today than it was when I was a child. In former times, the weatherman might predict snow and I’d get all excited at the prospect of a snow day from school. More often than not, the morning brought disappointment.
The disciples asked Jesus when he’d come back and Jesus answered, “Learn from the fig tree.” What Jesus meant was that just as we know spring is near when we see buds on the fig tree, when we see events unfolding in the world we’ll know that Christ’s return is near.
I watch the television news with alarm. Climate scientists warn us of global warming, of melting ice caps and rising sea levels. But on TV, we see blowing snow and subfreezing temperatures. It’s hard to believe in global warming when we’re skidding on ice.
And then there’s the government shutdown, the border wall, the President saying one thing and the media saying something entirely different. Are these signs of Christ’s return?
That’s the problem with signs. Signs that are so clear to us are completely unfathomable to others. A budding fig tree was a real head scratcher for the disciples. A groundhog gets it right half the time.
We need a Groundhog of the Apocalypse. We need something that is so sure a sign that when we see it we can say, “Yep! Jesus is coming! I saw the Groundhog of the Apocalypse.” So keep your eyes peeled and if you spot that Groundhog, I’d like to know.