It seems like, apart from politics and finger-pointing, the biggest news event right now appears to be the weather. We are accustomed to the weather being front and center during hurricanes or typhoons, but that usually lasts a day or two, and then it moves on to something else. In this part of Arizona, the weather is generally predictably boring: sunny day after sunny day after sunny day and temperatures ranging from what Phoenicians think of as cold (which is 50 to 60° as a high) to “Dang, it’s hot,” which usually indicates temperatures in excess of 110 and ranging up to 120 or so. But that’s just our corner the world; everybody’s got their own problems with the weather.
It seems like this winter snow has taken center stage, for ferocity if not sheer quantities. There was one group who carved a full-size mustang out of snow which was a fantastic-looking snow sculpture parked on somebody’s street. There are kids barreling downhill on everything from cafeteria trays to flamingo pool floats. People are skiing down the streets, and on the internet, there was an Amish gentleman being towed on skis behind a horse and buggy. Everybody’s got their way of dealing with snow.
Snow’s nice. I like it myself, although I don’t get to see it very often since I seldom leave the Phoenix area. I can look up at the White Mountains up north of the Valley and see snow on the caps of those mountains, and this year I could look at the Estrella Mountains close to where I live where there was a sprinkling of snow like a dusting of powdered sugar on a Bismarck, but we don’t get high volumes of it. This year, it seems like a lot of people got a lot of snow, and now, even if the snowstorms haven’t finished, there are parts of the country that are already having problems with the runoff.
Flooding is nothing new, but in some of the places where the flooding is occurring, it doesn’t happen that often. Floods have inundated fields that were previously drought-stricken. It seems like there is either too much or not enough.
It looks like no matter what, people always have to deal with whatever’s going on outside, and they have very little control over it, which makes people uneasy and sometimes very angry. When an excess of water cuts through a levee or an earth dam, the result can be catastrophic. We look to place blame, usually at the engineers who built the levees, spillways, and dams for just what went wrong. In some cases, it’s a case of poor judgment. In other cases, it was underestimating the amount of water that would need managing. As for the water? People have to learn to deal with it even when it becomes unmanageable. It also gets very expensive.
It makes me think of good old Noah. You know, the guy that built the ark in his backyard and whose neighbors probably thought he was absolutely batty? Noah had a far better weather channel than we’ve been able to come up with in these times – namely God. From God, Noah knew there was going to be a flood, and he also had instructions to build a massive ship to specific dimensions and with a particular configuration in mind. So Noah, who must’ve had a pretty good size backyard, gathered the wood and started hammering or maybe using wooden pegs. His sons probably helped too. Still, the neighbors probably looked at him a bit strangely as if he had turned green.
Noah did what he was told and, I have a feeling that at times he questioned just why he was doing this, but evidently, the questioning did not last very long because he kept building until the ark was finished. Then God told him to go gather up animals, either two by two, male and female, or seven pairs of clean animals and two pairs of unclean animals. I wonder what the neighbors thought of that. Noah was lucky; there were no HOA rules, city zoning boards, or even necessity for blueprint approval and inspections.
The previously skeptical people undoubtedly got very interested when the first few drops of rain started to fall. The interest rose as the water did. The neighbors were banging on the door of the ark, which Noah had shut by this time. They wanted to get on board and were probably reminding Noah that they had always been good friends. Maybe some tried reminding Noah of favors that they had done for Noah and his family, and that it was time for Noah’s family to reciprocate. We don’t know that for sure, but we do understand human nature, and that’s a pretty good example of it. Noah didn’t open the door, and eventually, the banging and the yelling stopped. The ark was no longer in Noah’s backyard, but moving about in a flood of, as we say, biblical proportions.
I have to think that when Katrina hit New Orleans, there were people who were very probably wishing Noah would come by in the ark and pick them up instead of leaving them stranded on their roofs or up trees, crammed into a football stadium, or living outside on a bridge. They couldn’t have predicted flood that hit the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and they couldn’t predict failure of the levees that caused the flooding there. They just had to deal with what the flood left behind, which was destruction on a massive scale. Almost every house was ruined, many with the dead still inside, and the survivors were left homeless, sick, and hungry.
God is not always going to tell us when the weather is going to be absolutely monstrous. The weather forecasters still can’t be one hundred percent accurate either, despite the knowledge they have of weather and weather patterns, signs and signals from satellites, and other types of monitoring equipment. Most of us are left to trust that we have been given a message, and act on it. But what we don’t expect is a Noah to come out of the blue and rescue us. God doesn’t always work that way.
For those who are suffering in the floods and the ones who will suffer when the floods move down from north to south, may God’s blessing be with you and may you all be safe and free from illness or death. Trust that God will be with you and that God will sometimes manifest as a guy in a rubber boat going by your house, looking to take you to safety. May you remember the four-footed creatures who share your lives, and ensure their safety as well as your own. And most of all, may God bring you through whatever comes with grace and strength and compassion for those less fortunate than yourselves and also that those more fortunate will be a blessing to their neighbors as well.
Be safe. God bless.
Image: Französischer Meister um 1675, Der Bau der Arche Noah, 1675, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Found at Wikimedia Commons.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is also owned by three cats.