April 1, 2020
God said to Noah, “Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.” … At the end of the forty days, Noah opened the window of the ark. - Genesis 6:14 and 8:6 (NRSV)
Noah’s ark is the boat God uses to spare Noah, his family, and a bunch of animals from the stormy torrent. It’s not just a children’s toy or fantastical book, but a profound memory of a deluge. The story of Noah’s ark is told, with variations, across Abrahamic traditions. The tale of a great flood is found in the oral tradition of many ancient civilizations.
In other words, it ain’t the first deluge and it won’t be the last one.
When children play with their toy arks, they lose pieces along the way. Just one giraffe remains. The monkeys disappear, only to turn up years later under the bed. Today we have lost more than our toys. We have lost a lot.
We are desperate for a forty-day calendar invite – and none is forthcoming. We are counting the days one “slice” of toilet paper at a time; those paper perforations let us laugh at how scared we are.
We so want to come out of zombie zoom and unmute ourselves. We want to touch or be touched. For now we are all untouchables and very touchy.
I miss the future. And from within the ark, all I can see is a different future. The end of the office. The end of school. The end of church. The end.
Advice-givers say, “Lower your expectations.” So, I will. I will make this journey without a suitcase, without a map, without guides. I’ll travel itinerary-free. Noah probably did too, until the dove and the rainbow changed his mind.
God of flood and ark, calendars and eternity, draw near. Future us in new ways. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.