Story of the Day for Thursday April 12, 2012
Return to the stronghold, O prisoners of hope.
August Cyparis was a troublemaker. In his mid-twenties, Cyparis lived in St. Pierre on the French Caribbean island of Martinique. He was arrested for brawling and forced to do hard labor. But, near the end of his sentence, he escaped from his laboring job to spend the night dancing. Even though he turned himself in to authorities the next morning, they were not amused and threw him in solitary confinement — a windowless dungeon that used to be a bomb-proof ammunition storage room.
St. Pierre, a beautiful city of 28,000, was called “The Paris of the West.” It was nestled on the ocean at the base of a dormant volcano, Mt. Pelée.
But in January of 1902, Pelée started grumbling. Fumerole activity began to increase, and by April, earth tremors could be felt. The sulfurous gas and ash drove snakes and insects off the volcano and around fifty people died of snakebites while livestock was tormented by biting red ants.
Governor Mouttet, however, convinced the editor of the daily newspaper to downplay the danger. He sent a handful of civic leaders to the summit of the volcano to inspect the situation. Though the only scientist among them was a high school teacher, they reported, “The safety of St. Pierre is completely assured.”
Not all the residents believed the reports. Yet, those who fled for safety were rounded up by troops and returned to St. Pierre — on the Governor’s order.
Governor Mouttet didn’t want a mass exodus from the city because he was up for re-election in one week, and wanted no instability among the voters.
The election never took place. On May 8, Mt. Pelée erupted. The city was leveled by searing hot gas (around 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) that blew an estimated 400 miles an hour. A three ton statue was blown sixteen feet off its mount. Three foot masonry walls were demolished.
Within three minutes, all 28,000 residents were killed.
All except for two people. And one of those two survivors was a prisoner sitting in solitary confinement. There in the massive walls of the dungeon, August Cyparis was protected.
Cyparis survived, but not because he was a good man. He survived because of the massive stronghold that protected him.
On the day of Judgment, it is not the good, the strong, who will survive. Those saved will be all those who look to the God of mercy to be their stronghold.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)