Posted on September 10, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
As you set foot on land, this feels like a new beginning for the both of us. So, it seems like a good moment to write.
I have received your offering and heard your prayers and I’d like to address a couple of questions you’ve raised. Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. Yes, I regret not designing an ark that was a few cubits longer, especially in the back where you kept the hippos. I see now that things got a little cramped in there. Sorry about that.
Of course, you also asked a harder question. One that bothers you even more than the hippos. Why? you asked as the rains poured down and the land sunk into the sea. Why did I do it?
I suspect that I can’t answer in anyway that will satisfy you. But I can tell you my thoughts, and, I hope more importantly, I can tell you what happens now.
I created this world with a vision in mind. See, within me there is this perception or sense or dream of beauty and love. And I imagined it becoming something outside of my own mind. I imagined the elegant intricacies of tiny cells and the power of vast galaxies coming into form. I imagined the joy of human relationships and the fascinating beauty of a world in which animals and plants and water and air and light all depended upon one another.
So I spoke this dream aloud and molded this world into being. And it was thrilling. To create all that is around you. Not just the stuff, either, but time and warmth and distance and emotion and life. My dream, my imagination came into being.
Almost. Before the paint dried, I could see that it wasn’t going to be quite as I expected it. Within humanity there was happiness and creativity and compassion and humor. But, there was also an anger, a distrust, a fear, a greed in the people I made. You’ve seen it. You’ve seen it in your neighbors, in your kids, even in yourself. And it took root. It became, not just a tendency or occasional fluke within some, but the driving force within many, and integral to the thoughts and actions of everyone.
This distrust and fear manifested themselves in ways I never expected. The people turned, not just on me, they also turned on each other or abandoned one another. Violence and neglect spread across the whole planet. Like an epidemic. Like a disease with no cure. The land itself began to suffer, as greed made the people see the animals and plants and minerals around them as resources to hoard rather than fellow creatures of a God who loves them.
It got so bad, Noah. And I saw that the dream I had spoken into being never really had a chance to be. I’d put so much of myself into this. I’d had so much hope. And my hopes were dashed.
So, I grieved. I wept. And I got angry. Watching humans kill humans. Watching the exploitation of one another. Watching it all, the desire for justice burned within me. I wanted to let them fall victim to their own violence. And I wanted to put a stop to this. Root out the evil. If you all want to destroy this place, destroy this beauty I’d made, then fine, I figured, let’s see the destruction you seek actually come to pass. I was mad. Why did I do it? you ask. Why? It’s the question I’ve been wondering of you people for so long. Why do you do this? Why do you do this to me? To each other? You broke the world. And in doing so you broke my heart. I could no longer sit back and just watch.
So I made it rain. I made it rain to wash clean this world of the evil that had infested it, and the brokenness that had come about. I made it rain not to destroy it all, but to cut the evil back. I made it rain with a new hope, or maybe a renewed hope that if I could wash the world clean, my dream, my vision for this world could come into being – this time uncorrupted.
And you, of course, were a big part of that. You and your children and all those animals there. I don’t think calling it ‘starting over’ is right. It isn’t that I want to scrap the world and try a new one. I wanted to make this one work. It’s because of my hopes for this world that I wanted to root out the brokenness. It’s a severe form of pruning, to be sure. Too severe? But, Noah, you are the remnant, quarantined in this ark so that this next chapter might prove different than the last.
Or at least that’s what the plan was. But as the rains ceased and I blew a wind across the world to dry up the waters and reveal land. As I watched the world come into being again, like it had that first time. I’ve come to realize something. I can’t root it out. That evil and brokenness, they can’t be pruned. The fear and distrust and hatred within people that so shocked me – it’s part of who you are. Even you, dear friend. It’s part of who you are. And I suspect, I know, that as this world takes shape again, it will break my heart again. This time, the world will still not be the one of my imagination. This still won’t be the place I dreamed of.
Which might sound kind of sad. It is sad. It makes me sad. And it might feel like we’re doomed. Destined to a world of brokenness and pain. Or, to an eternal repetition of near total destruction, of severe pruning, only to find the disease still surviving. It might feel like you, like we, are doomed.
But we aren’t. Because I also came to realize something else in the wind and rain: I cannot prune away the brokenness leaving behind the world of my dreams, but I can do something. Humanity has not changed, won’t change, so I will.
I’ll change. See, I’m committed to this place. This dream of mine is too important to give up on. And more than that, I’ve fallen in love with what I’ve made. I love it too much to sit back and watch it decay, and I love it too much to prune again, especially knowing now that it won’t work. So, I’ll change. For the people who make me so sad and so angry. For this planet. For you. I’ll change for you.
So, here’s what comes next. A promise. The first I’ve made with people. Actually, I’m making it with the whole world. A promise to you and your children. To the animals scattering out onto the still damp land. To the fish and the plants. I will not destroy the world again. I will not employ this severe pruning method in an attempt to rid the world of its brokenness.
I will still hold tight to justice. I will still weep and get angry and demand that you treat one another with love. But when you fail to, when you let the anger and distrust and fear inside you take control – which I’ve learned you will do – I will not try to rid the world of the evil and brokenness that is throughout it. I won’t destroy.
Instead, I will enter in. I will make covenants with you, promises. I will form you into communities. I will give you laws to hold back your nefarious tendencies. I will grant gifts and skills to be used for the good of your neighbor. I will call leaders and workers and prophets and poets and parents and teachers and musicians and scientists and nurses and trash collectors. I will help you see that you are dependent on one another. And I will give you worship and scripture and ways to connect with me. Faith. I will reveal myself to you and call to you so that the broken trust between us might not stay that way.
This world of my dreams has not come into being. But, as I form and mold and walk alongside you, I hope that that it could become the world of my dreams. I think that this could be a world of becoming, not being. A world of humans that is not created as I imagined, but grows and evolves closer to it, maybe. Or, at least a world that shows forth glimpses of the dream I have for it, even as the darkness within battles against it. Could it be, that this is a world not called into being but into becoming?
Perhaps. Though I’m pretty sure even there it will fall short. The laws and communities and callings will not be enough. So I’ll come down there. I will not prune away the brokenness. I will bear it. I will come down there and take upon myself. To show you my love. To finally defeat the evil that infests this world. To draw us together as I’ve always wanted, I see now that you will never come to me. So I will come to you.
It would be easier to prune again. But I just can’t do it. Evil can’t be flooded off the planet. And the costs are too great, anyway. So I won’t. Instead I’ll get in the dirt. I’ll get my heart broken again and again, get angry and tired and sad, but I will stick to it. I’ll stick with you.
That’s my promise. As we enter into this new beginning together, I promise to enter into the brokenness of this world. And as a sign of that promise, I give you the rainbow. A reminder that when the rains fall and the world feels beyond healing, I am committed to you, to this place. A reminder for you of my promise, so that you might have faith and courage to join me in this commitment to the world. But also a reminder for me. A reminder of the promise I made to you and to all I have created. A promise that through rain and sunshine, I am with you. And I always will be. Amen.