Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Painful Memory

It is sweet to sit again on the branch of a tree, to breathe the clean, wide-open air, and lift my wings into the sunshine. Day by day I watch the waters recede, and I know that very soon my mate will join me, we will start a family and joy together in this precious freedom. We will watch together as the scars heal in this broken world, as all green and growing things rush to eradicate the sodden, empty places, and as our fellow creatures go forth, two by two, to fill this remade landscape with their future. We will watch and we will wonder, for strange and marvellous are the ways of the Almighty, and His dealings with humankind are a mystery that hurts our feathered minds.

For pain lies just behind us: pain and terror and calamity as the whole world was unmade and reborn while we sheltered in our storm tossed boat knowing the very heights of the mountains lay far beneath us. We sheltered, in the mighty boat, eight human beings and creatures beyond count, creatures of every kind; and all the rest, kin, acquaintance and strangers, perished beneath the torment of the waters. We were glad of the pounding rain, so that we could neither see nor hear the world beyond our walls, we knew there was horror out there, even while there was safety and noise and bustle inside.

It took generations of our kind for that boat to be built; my parents, and my parents’ parents, and who knows how many more parents of parents before that watched from their nest tree as the man Noah and his sons toiled at their monstrous boat, the frame and the decks and the outsides – and all the insides had to be fitted out to accommodate the various creatures, and all the outsides had to be coated in pitch – a most unpleasant smell to have near your nest, but at this point the story had become our family legend, so we couldn’t leave now! And then the food – all the different kinds of fodder that had to be brought on board, and something for the humans as well!

But in all that time, not one of the neighbours took them seriously, they would laugh and jeer, even make up rude songs about it, and sometimes sneak up under cover of darkness and throw all kinds of filth on it, till, eventually, Noah and his sons had to take turns guarding it at night. And all the time we doves sat hidden in the foliage and watched and listened to everything, and resolved that, whatever it was really all about, we wanted to be part of whatever Noah was doing.

For Noah was a good man, kind to everyone and rarely provoked, no matter what his neighbours said and did. When his neighbours mocked him, he would plead with them, sometimes with tears, to take God seriously, warning them of a great destruction to come. But the more he pleaded, the wilder and rougher they became, and the more they did evil in front of him, defiantly aiming to shock him. And on the day that God brought the animals to the ark, they laughed louder than ever. But on the day that the rains began, their laughter was silenced. If God Himself had not shut the door, Noah would have opened to their pleading, but it was too late. And as Noah wept for them we perched above him and wept also, for we love the things that make for peace and we mourned for the pain of such a broken world.

And now we have a new beginning, and we will rejoice at the sun as it rises each morning. But we will not forget the terror of the waters, or the great loss that the world endured, and we will pray that such a thing need never happen again

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