Thursday, January 12, 2012

When I Have Fears That I Might Cease To Be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to Nothingness do sink.

Okay, seriously, I can't do that. I simply cannot do what John Keats does here. It is his remedy against his fears. It cannot be my remedy. 

I've always had fears that I may cease to be before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain. Alas, alarmist mother. Hypochondria. And ill health. What can I say? Seriously, I have moments when I can't get out of bed, the fear can be so paralyzing.

But I cannot sit around trying to think until love and fame sink or shrink to nothingness. 

So when I have these fears that I can't start yet another book because I might not live to finish it, I hold to God. I hold to His power. I ascribe to Him glory and strength. I trust in His miraculous power to heal and preserve me.

In this way, I'm different from Keats. And I have to be aware of this difference. 

Sometimes we have to search then separate ourselves from our favorite poems because those poems and songs however lovely or sweet or hooked into our souls are simply wrong for a Christian to think.

I used to love Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock" when I was a kid. But now I must yank the roots of that song out of me. I like the tune of Imagine. It feels almost like a hymn. But it's not a hymn. It's nihilism disguising itself as life and joy. Just as this song by sweet Keats is a giving in to despair. He prepared himself to die...and perhaps he had no other chance because the Christian faith of those around him had not been wholly severed from its rationalistic non-miraculous moorings. But I have spent 52 years, trying to find the power of God in my present life. And I believe I have found it. I'm holding on to hope and faith and to the idea of miracles and healing because that is what my Christian faith promises me. Lord, I ascribe to you, glory, power, love, and strength.

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