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Rev. Baden Stanley

Rev. Baden Stanley

Each week we hope to post a blog on a Monday or Tuesday. These blogs will hopefully stimulate thought, discussion and even debate around key topic that are affecting our society at this time of great change and challenge.

A Man Called Noah, Chapter 21: ‘Water, water everywhere…’

The animals began to get restless on the second day since the floods rose, much of the first day had been spent by Noah and his family sitting together in stunned silence, their minds unable to take in everything that had happened, and the spreed with which everything had changed. It would be many years before most of them could even speak of the horror of that first day. Naamah had roused them from their stupor as evening caused their room to darken even more. She insisted that they all took turns in washing all the vomit and filth off themselves and she prepared a small meal of fruit and nuts, knowing that none of them could stomach more than that. Shem and Miriam had built a smaller room beside their living space where they could toilet in some privacy. It was near the waste chute which would prove to be both necessary and helpful. They all slept fitfully that first night and were awoken early by the stirring of restless beasts who were hungry and in need of exercise. Japheth and Deborah had insisted that the centre passageway on each level be kept clear to enable the animals to move about under human direction. And so began a busy and distracting daily routine with Ham and Bennai ensuring each stall was cleared out and food prepared for its residents. Japheth and Deborah would walk the animals one full length of the ARK while this was happening. Shem and Miriam went with Noah to evaluate how the ARK had fared from the rough surge of the tumultuous water the day before. Noah was amazed how little damage had been done. Apart from some water seeping into the back end of the lower level where the ARK continued to list slightly with the disproportionate weight, Noah was able to assure Naamah that all was well and that, by God’s help, they were safe.

Meanwhile the rain continued to fall in heavy torrents so that they had to speak loudly to each other to be heard. Naamah had manage to set a fire in their living space, and while the smoke made them cough and wheeze, they welcomed the light and warmth it provided for their still shocked bodies. That second night they ate better, and spoke more. They reviewed what was working in the daily chores, and what needed urgent change. Noah marvelled at how much his sons had matured. The two younger sons looked to Shem rather than Noah for advice and leadership; and while Noah bristled slightly at the change, he understood the need for it. He had aged years over the past two days, his waking moments were spent reliving the horror of the sound of those outside begging, pleading, banging on the Ark to be let in. While he had succeeded in almost completing the ARK, he had failed miserably in convincing anyone to join them. A deep depression began to steal over him, causing Naamah great concern and dismay. She knew that Methuselah would have found words to challenge Noah out of his lethargy, but she felt ill-equipped as she too struggled to block out those cries of desperation and desolation that haunted her memory too.

Interestingly it was Bennai who broke the inner storm on that second night as they were settling themselves down for whatever sleep they could find: ‘Father Noah,’ she began, ‘tell me of this Garden that Methuselah spoke of as he was dying.’ It was a question that she had so badly wanted to ask for many years, but the busyness of their lives had prevented her. Now at last it seemed they might have time to learn more of this God she believed in, but still did not know. They all lay down, the fire casting flickering shadows across the room as Noah began to tell them the story he had first heard from his father Lamech, who in turn had heard it from old Methuselah, all the way back to the first time it was told by Adam and Eve to their third son Seth. Noah’s voice strengthened as he told the story so familiar to him and his sons, but still new and fresh to his daughters. The beauty and richness of the garden was made all the more vivid as they lay cramped in a small room of a huge ARK atop a rising flood.

After he had finished the first part of the story up to when God made Adam from the dust, a deep calm settled over all of them, and they slept for many hours, waking only when the animals roared their frustration at being cooped up for too long. And so began a pattern of days and nights, nearly forty nights, as the rain continued to pound the outer walls and roof of the ARK. Noah found purpose again in the passing on of these stories to the next generation, knowing that they too would do the same with their own children in due course. It was becoming clearer to even him that all three wives of their sons were with child and while it was still early days, Noah and Naamah took great delight in the news. As their children worked hard every day, the old couple took to walking the length of each level, marvelling at the majesty and beauty of some of the animals, laughing at the antics of the monkeys, walking warily around the big cats who seemed constantly hungry and who had to be securely locked up when not being exercised. Only Japheth seemed able to control these wild animals, he seemed to understand them instinctively, and would speak tirelessly of their personalities and individual characteristics.

And still the rain fell; having established that much of the ARK was above the rising water line, with possibly only the lower levels submerged but thankfully still dry, he and Miriam began cutting holes at either end of each level. The heavy rain had started to seep down the inside walls of the ARK and had begun to gather in small but growing pools. These new holes allowed them to push the water out of the ARK, and just as importantly to push out much of the animal waste that that had been building up at an alarming rate. Not only was the noise of the heavy rain falling assaulting their ears, the smell of thousands of animals began to take its toll on their nostrils.

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