Spirit Quest and Noah's Ark

Spirit Quest

The Good Reverend provides his version

of the Great Flood and Noah's Ark then and now

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

They stretched in what seemed like an unending line, after all it consisted of representatives of every creature under the sun — a pair of each. They waited patiently to clear security and board Noah’s Ark.

In 1846 Edward Hicks, an American folk artist, painted the scene that the Irish archbishop, James Ussher (1581 - 1656) had dated at 2348 BC some 2000 years after God created the world and all that is therein. Things had gone very badly right from the start, the first couple raiding the apple orchard and Cain disAbling his brother, etc . A housecleaning was in order. What better way than a thorough rinse of all creation. However, the best and the brightest were to be preserved to procreate a better world, a place of peace and harmony where the lion and the lamb might lie down together and hopefully all have enough to eat.

And so it was that no sooner than the last creature (who was it?) passed through the scanner, the clouds darkened and large drops of rain began to fall. There was thunder and lightning. Puddles formed, melded into each other and streams carried the water to the lowest  places which soon filled up. Not only did the deluge come from above, but springs sprung up and the waters from under the earth surged and joined the waters from above.

The seashores left their banks as is predicted in global warming. The maritime regions soon were inundated. First the lowlands, then the highlands disappeared beneath the flood.

It wasn’t long before the passengers safely tucked in their berths sensed movement as the craft lifted from the ground and bobbed in the waves. Did captain Noah and his crew pass out gravol pills?

For many days  the Ark moved with the wind and  the waves.  The writer of Genesis, chapter 7,  says it was 150 days. Only Father Ussher and his literalist followers seemed to know for sure.

Finally God remembered his servant Noah and his Ark and turned off the divine spigots The seas calmed and the sun broke through the clouds. Noah opened the doors and windows and the creatures squinted in the bright sunlight. As far as they could see all was sea.

I recall crossing the ocean and on the first morning going up on deck to smell the salty breeze and be greeted by the gulls that had followed in our wake. Water, water everywhere but none to drink. Trust Noah who had thought of everything or was reminded by the all knowing cruise director to have the necessary supply of water on board.

After many days of drifting on a calm ocean  the passenger spotted a dark object in the sky. ( remember this is my version of the story, I’ll tell it my wayl) As they watched it got larger, “It’s a bird, its a plane, ” they chanted. They were right on the first guess, it was a bird, a dove,  with an olive branch  and a fresh green leaf in its beak, trying to tell the travellers something. Somewhere terra was firma once more.  Hope springs eternal!.

Gradually the sea subsided and the Ark found rest on a mountain top. Mount Ararat (5,137 m) on the Turkish border with Iran has been  incontrovertibly identified. They have found timbers, perhaps a keel, a bowsprit and some ribs of that salvific vessel. So they maintain. Ussher would applaud the find.

Does creation need another Ark? We no longer need God to destroy creation, we can do that pretty well on our own.

From time to time I receive a publication called The Ark, the organ of a non-governmental agency called Nature Conservancy  (www. natureconservancy.ca). It is dedicated to preserve our natural habitat. Donors are encouraged to give money or bequeath land that might be used to enlarge and protect the environment from the ravages of drill and saw. It’s motto is: Connect Globally, Conserve Locally.

The latest issue featured the plight of the bobcat. No pussycat this, but a fierce hunter that needs a huge territory to be sustained. In an article  titled “Connecting the Dots  of Conservation” I read, “ Under the cover of night, the creature pads silently  between the trees, searching for rabbits  and mice. It moves stealthily, ever alert for coyotes and other predators as it makes its way to a nearby lake for a drink of water.”

Bobcats needs on average 70 square kilometers  or more. The health of their population reflects how well their habitat is protected. Nature needs space and a clean environment to flourish. But nature is totally interlinked, what affects one species affects another and invariably also humankind.

As our planet Earth, or Gaia as its known in Latin, becomes more and more crowded and polluted, there are those who quite seriously look to the sky  and wonder whether Mars or some other planet is habitable. Could we build a Space Ark  to save humanity from the garbage dump we have created? Think of the shores of Haida Guaii reaping the flotsam from the Japanese tsunami a year later.

Nature Conservancy’s Ark does not advocate escape but  preservation and cleansing, and  reminds us that economics  must not trump ecology as is advocated by our present government.

One of my favourite musicals is called Missa Gaia or Earth Mass. It is a collage of music, words and sounds of nature, the haunting call of the loon, the conversation of whales from the deep, the howl of the wolves as they communicate with one another.  There is also the deep sound of the native drum, Paul Winter’s wistful solos on the clarinet. There are soloists and groups  performing in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. A choir with organ, clarinet and percussion accompaniment sing the beautiful hymn: For the Beauty of the Earth, Sing Oh Sing Always.  It stirs me  to the depth of my soul whenever I hear it.

There is a spirit within all creation urging us not to flee but to work for,  to celebrate  and to love what has evolved within and all around us.