This story is inspired by Genesis 9:8–15, the first reading for the First Sunday of Lent.
“Dad, we’ve got to unpack the ark.”
“I know, son. But first I really must savor a moment thanking God a little longer. Sit down with me.”
“But Dad, I’m worried about the animals.”
“Shem, stop fretting. They’ve been fine for 40 days and 40 nights; a few more minutes won’t hurt. Look with me at that rainbow in the sky, and study its colors. Now, close your eyes, and tell me if you can name the colors in the exact order you saw them. If you can’t, open your eyes and really look at that rainbow. I mean really look at it.”
Shem shook his head. “I don’t know if I can do that while I’ve got work to do.”
Noah thought for a moment. “In years to come, I tell you, whenever you see a rainbow, I want you to remember this day and the unbreakable relationship our family has with the Creator of all. That rainbow is a sign. It’s a reminder.”
Noah sighed deeply, clearly allowing himself to enjoy the bright sunlight warming his skin. His nostrils filled with the sweet scent of damp air. “Today our God is demonstrating a strong connection to us. Now that we’ve come out of the water, I can almost hear God saying, ‘You are my beloved.’ Shem, this is a precious moment to praise, and we shouldn’t rush past it.”
At that moment, Noah’s wife joined them. She sat at her husband’s side, leaned on his shoulder, and spoke softly. “Just look at that rainbow! Do you see how different it looks from the one we saw yesterday? It arches a little wider and a little higher. If you tip your head and look at it upside down, you can imagine that God is smiling at us! Do you think that God could smile in colors?”
“Of course,” Noah replied, chuckling. “God can do anything. He just rescued us from a world-changing disaster while, oh, so many have died. Yet God is looking down on all of us—all creatures and the earth itself—and pronouncing it very good.”
Noah’s wife nodded. “As the waters recede below us, I feel as if I’ve been born again—as if I had died and gotten up again. Miraculous.”
“Dad, honestly, I think we ought to get to our important work,” Shem insisted.
“Son, we will always have valuable work to do. But spending time marveling at what God has made and how God has spared us from unspeakable harm is an important daily task. Please, take a moment. I know we’ll see plenty of rainbows in the future, but we can’t take for granted the promise they signify of God redeeming us.”
Noah continued, “Your children’s children’s children will also face forces compelling them to make decisions for good or ill. Please take time for the rainbow. God promises never again to destroy all living creatures, and this covenant is made not only with us but with all living beings, and even the earth itself.”
Shem finally sat down next to Noah and marveled at a promise bigger than the horizon.
Photo by PIXNIO.