Noah was going about his business one day ~ thinking about food, family, work, politics and whatnot ~ when God spoke to him and said that something horrendous was about to break loose. It wasn’t exactly a global pandemic; but it might as well have been. It was going to be a flood, the likes of which would change the world! Deniers, cynics, politicians and religious leaders had their doubts ~ but God trusted Noah to act promptly and decisively. God instructed Noah to build an ark (read: big boat). Noah replied that there was so little water in their neck-of-the-globe that they even named puddles! Just kidding. God was not in the mood for lousy jokes.
Noah went to work on the ark. He gathered his family and two representatives of every living creature ~ along with some vegetables, fruits, flowers, weeds and house plants. Even mosquitoes. Almost forgot to mention spiders.
People thought Noah was nuts. Paranoid. Delusional. Thought it was a hoax; a prank; a lie. Even Noah wasn’t completely sure. But God had a plan. And Noah had a timely, thoughtful and somewhat expensive response. Lumber has never been cheap. But Noah’s labor was his gift to God and to the world. Even if they didn’t say thank you.
The ark was built. Human and other creatures entered, reluctantly. The first official complaints were about sleeping accommodations and the smell. Oh, the smell!
Even as the flood waters rose about the treetops ~ they hated staying indoors. Outdoors was no safe option, but they hated indoors nonetheless. Forty days is a long, long time to spend with the likes of giraffes, aardvarks and flies. Don’t you think? Tempers flared. People snored. All creatures great and small began to lose weight. Some people got seasick. A human cough sent ripples of fear through the ark. Children languished. Got better. Languished again. People tried and failed to keep social distance. Not being drowned was a plus; but survival was no picnic. Prayers and smoke floated ever upward. Some people choked on both. They formed a community; a little world floating atop a larger world. They settled-in against the shock of it all happening so fast. They lived on morsels of food, faith, hope and promise that things would get better. They waited. And they waited.
And they remembered. They remembered better times that were taken for granted: the feel of a leaf; of sand between toes; of drifting off to sleep with nothing particular on their mind. Then they woke with memory of the freakiness of what was happening. OMG! Was etched on the inside wall of the ark by someone who preferred to remain anonymous. They fought a strong impulse to hoard and withdraw into themselves. They couldn’t defend themselves against the realization that their wellbeing was, and perhaps always was, dependent on the wellbeing of others.
Eventually, the waters began to subside. A dove returned to the ark with a sprig of an olive breach in its beak. Land appeared. A rainbow appeared. The ark settled in the mud of earth, that was not yet solid and stable under their feet. We don’t know what the world looked like when they disemb-ark-ed. But the aftermath couldn’t have been pretty. The world was changed forever. So were they. Naturally.
The first thing Noah did when he stood on ground after over a month of quarantine and waiting-out-the-storm was to build an altar and thank God for their survival. They had made it! And we will too! The global crisis had affected their body; but it had not infected their soul. Their story of travail and survival has survived and for thousands of years has been available as our teacher. They way in which we suffer and survive together will change the world. Our willingness to sacrifice on behalf of each other and assist each other will also legendary. Pandemics and floods will come again in time. What we do and don’t do today will immensely help people tomorrow. Suffer well. And recover in joy and in peace.