I am working really hard at living the messages that I shared during the High Holidays. I am wearing my “Grateful” wristband and regularly focusing my attention on the good stuff that fills my life. I think I have been pretty successful at counting my blessings each day and seeing the glass as half full…that is, until this week.
The terrorist attack in Israel that left a 3 month old baby girl dead, the terrorist attack in Canada that left a soldier and father dead and now the possible terrorist attack in Manhattan that resulted in the injury of two police officers and another woman all rocked the hope and gratitude that have permeated my life as I began this new year. The media frenzy surrounding Ebola and the negative political ads that infiltrate television and radio are not doing anything to reinforce my positive outlook on life. At times like this, it is hard to believe in hope.
Fortunately, I found the perfect cure for my hopelessness in this week’s Torah portion – the story of Noah and the Flood. In this story, the world is out of control. Morality is out of whack. God has lost hope and gives up on humanity, with the exception of Noah and his family. Therefore, God orders Noah to build an ark which will be a refuge for Noah and his family as God floods the world. It is in the directions that God gives to Noah, detailing how to build the ark, that I found the cure for hopelessness:
“You shall make a window for the ark…and the doorway of the ark you shall place in its side.” Genesis 6:16
Yes, God has had enough of the absurdity that was wreaking havoc on the planet. But, God has not given up on hope. God has Noah build an ark with a window – so Noah could see when the storm clouds had lifted and the horrific storm had come to an end. God has Noah build an ark with a doorway – so that Noah and his family could, in time, come out of the ark and start again. Yes, at the beginning of this story, the world was a mess. But, God knew that it would not stay this way. Eventually, Noah would look out the window and see that the rain had stopped. Eventually, Noah and his family would be able to leave the ark via the doorway that he built. Eventually, the survivors of the flood would see the beautiful rainbow in the sky and know that all was good once again.
This week’s Torah portion reminds me that even God gets tired with the craziness that goes on in our world. But, God, knew that the craziness and those who brought about this craziness were temporary. Noah and his family sought shelter from the craziness in the ark. We all need a protective ark when things go crazy. But, we must insure that our ark does not completely isolate us from the world around us. We need a window in our ark – because just as the craziness will come – it will also go. We need a door in our ark – because once the craziness goes, it is time to re-engage with life. The window and the door that God commands Moses to build into the ark symbolize hope – hope that things will get better. No matter how chaotic it all seems, no matter how horrific the storm, we will see the skies clear and as we walk out the door, the rainbow will appear and, yes, all will be good once again.