When I was a preschooler My dad taught me to read using the stories of Genesis in the Old Testament including the story of Noah and the flood. He would point at a word and I would try to read it. If I could not make it out the word he would tell me what the word was. By the time I reached first grade I could handle words like Melchizedek. Run Dick Run was pretty boring.
Those stories are buried in my soul. I feel so tender and attached to them. For most of this year the story of Noah I has been on my mind. I was raised that the stories were history not myth. Those events actually occurred.
That the story was history began to be a problem for me. I was forced to begin to think of them as myth because I did not want to think of God drowning all of the entire world’s population in a flood. That sounded more like Hitler or the Gulag Archipelago than the gospel.
I am not trying to say that the story is myth not history. I am quite sure that wonderful, smart people had found a valid way to understand the mass drowning that accurately reflects a loving God. Maybe part of me still values the Noah as history. I just wanted to think abut them as myth for awhile. I wanted to see what I could learn to help me grow as a person. I suspect that this story has shaped my own values. That means I want to see what lessons are here that I have become mine personally.
I sometimes understand a myth as a false story. “I would like to get a red Corvette for Christmas”. I could say that was just a myth meaning it was a false hope. In the context of this writing I am working on right now a myth is something wonderful and is completely useful in order for me to understand Noah.
In ancient days there were no electronic or printed means for recreation. The need for for recreation and connection were many times met by story telling. In the oral tradition great stories were told over and over year after year and decade after decade. Different story tellers told various versions of the stories.
The process of story telling gradually led to them being refined and refined and until they became a part that society’s basic understanding of their culture. The myths became myth’s that that were self defining of the culture.
At that level of involvement the myths became then a society’s presuppositions. My presupposition are that I am male, elderly and a Caywood. I seldom think about my presuppositions. Nevertheless, my presuppositions are behind everything I say, think or write. When a historic myth is fully ingested by a culture it gives insight into that cultures foundational mind
The Animals: I believe the animals are included so that I can understand that the stories meaning for me includes more than just humans. God’s love includes all of creation. That motivates me to take car of the environment every way I can. I love dogs. I see that my love of animals is a a love that came to me from God’s love of all creatures and all creation. It seems to me and touches me me that Noah was chosen precisely because he loved animals.
The Flood: The flood tells me that in god’s plan for Noah and that in my with life God always gives me a way of escape when I feel I am being deluged by the trials of my life.
The flood of all the earth: ….I think the flooding of the entire world stands for the destroying of all the uncertainty in the human agony of trying to figure out how to gain peace with God. Mankind was mired in endless, painful, efforts to prevent the gods from showering destruction on the life. If a crop fails or a loved one becomes ill Humanity desperately wanted protection from all the vicissitudes of life.
People tried to protect themselves from negative events. They did this by offering something they valued to god to win his/her favor. Sometimes things worked out in the persons favor. Sometimes their gifts did get the results desired. That meant that there evolved a complicated, unreliable and very expensive means to bribe god. Sometimes the system of bribes demanded they even tried the bribe of burning their babies alive.
For me, the drowning of the whole world meant the destruction of the whole system of God Bribery. The universal drowning does not speak to destroying people but it destroyed the human systems that were so destructive. I think any spiritual system that can not be summed up in loving Gad and loving people is a very destructive system. The Noah flood destroyed a wicked methodology not a wicked people.
The Olive Branch. Toward the end of the story God has Noah sending out a daily series of doves until finally a dove returned with an olive leaf symbolizing an olive branch. To me the olive branch is God announcing that the end of the frantic attempts to appease God and the beginning of a freely offered way of Peace.
A mighty wind was so strong it dried out all that troublesome water. the wind of god is the breath of god the Holy Spirit. Look at the word respiration and you can see the root is the same spirit. I think it helps me to understand how intimate the Holy Spirit is when I appropriately call him/her the Breath Of God.
The foundation of of ancient Middle Eastern morality was hospitality. In such a dry, hot inhospitable land kindness to travelers is a key to survival. Anyone could pass out and in minute be desperate need. The same idea is in the New Testament is the Good Samaritan parable. To me the Rainbow is God saying come enjoy living in my house as in John quote of Jesus” In my fathers house there are many mansions.
I am inspired to cast away all my doubts about my my welcome in Gods presence. In fact I see the universe as a wonderful gift to us. There are many physical laws that are obeyed all over the entirety of space. I think there is also a spiritual law that fills the unimaginably vastness of space. That spiritual law is love.