I hit my six hundredth birthday that year. Yah, I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s the truth. The construction project God had assigned me was complete. My wife and kids had downsized—we were going to be limited in space. The boys’ wives were less than thrilled to have to give up their goo-gaws, but hey, the alternative wasn’t pleasant.
While we were building the ark, I warned the neighbours about what was coming. Not that they believed me. After all, who could have imagined enough water to float a boat the size of the one I was putting together. I guess I sounded as crazy as those weird guys you avert your eyes from who stand on street corners holding up those “The End of the World is Coming” signs.
Anyway, we collected all the animals God told us to collect. You should’ve heard the neighbours complain about that! The honking, mooing, bleating, growling, hissing, and pooing, didn’t make us too popular. Finally we got them all onboard and assigned to their stalls, pens, and burrows (creative accommodation for the burrowers was Shem’s strong point).
God shut the door. Honest.
We waited, and then the heavens opened up. So did everything else that could produce water. Forty days and forty nights worth of water walls and water falls. After that it was just water everywhere, covering everything. Definitely a flood of what your media calls “biblical proportions.”
So off we floated.
Life on an ark is no picnic. It might have been, if this had been a Royal Caribbean cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. This ark was certainly an oasis but sharing space with this floating menagerie was definitely a challenge. At least I didn’t have to park this huge boat alongside a tiny dock on some small island waterfront—I’m not really a sailor by trade. I sure learned to “tote that barge. Lift that bale”* though. Do you know how much food that many animals eat? I’m grateful, though—God suspended our need to eat each other.
We had our share of “issues.” My wife used to take solitary walks in the forest B.F. (that’s Before Flood). Back then, the animals were afraid of her and stayed out of the way. It was hard to take a walk on the ark without stumbling over something or someone. Cats’ tails always seemed to be underfoot. And the BIG cats seemed to think that everyone should be respectful of their tails no matter in what direction they were swishing. They really threw a hissy fit if you stepped on their appendages.
We humans had our moments. You folks call it “cabin fever.” The expression has its origins with the ark, you know. Rooms on board boats are called “cabins,” right? Keeping us from getting on each others’ nerves was definitely a “God-thing.”
I don’t even want to discuss the matter of waste disposal.
We hit Mount Ararat with a thud one sunny afternoon. God hadn’t forgotten us. But even the mountain goats weren’t interested in getting off. So we waited. I sent out a raven to do a little reconnaissance. Rupert’s a smart bird and will eat almost anything, so if there was food to be had, he’d find it. He kept coming back to the boat for his meals so we knew it wasn’t time yet.
Then I sent Dora out. Doves are strong fliers. I knew if she didn’t find any dry land, she wouldn’t run out of “gas” before she got back to safety. Dora also loves seeds. If she found any, we’d know that we’d soon have our feet on solid ground. We were awfully disappointed when she came back with nothing. A week later, Dora returned with an olive leaf in her beak. Boy, did we party!
I had just turned six hundred and one when we staggered off that boat onto dry land. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t kiss the ground. The ground didn’t save us, God did, so I built an altar to let him know how grateful we were.
Once life returned to normal I caught myself yearning for those days, months, that year, on the ark. Living in such close quarters with seven other people, and only the Lord knows how many animals, was complicated and stressful. But I’d do it again. Obvious challenges aside, being shut in with God sure beats shutting him out.
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