We respond to a deluge with an outpouring of compassion.
Then God said to Noah and his sons: “I now establish My covenant with you and with your descendants and with every living creature — the birds, the domesticated and the wild animals; every living creature on earth: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.
“Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. When-ever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between Me and all life on the earth.”
The Scriptures tell us that God gave God’s word that the earth would never again be destroyed by floods as happened in the time of Noah. The divine Promise was extended to all humanity, to the birds, the bees, the animals; to all creatures, great and small in perpetuity. The pledge was repeated three times — and sealed with a rainbow. So, by rights, we shouldn’t have to worry.
But that simply isn’t true.
Oh, we could let it pass on a technicality: the whole world may not have been washed away — but a significant percentage of it has come close, most recently in the catastrophic flooding in Texas. We can add to that a terrible litany of other water-devastation events including those in Louisiana, in Japan, and the unspeakable horrors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed over 250,000 lives.
Say what you will: it is as if the whole earth has been destroyed.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t require a planetary tidal wave: our hearts are troubled when even a small part of our world is in crisis; we grieve when other members of humanity suffer and die; we are distraught over the pets that are lost or abandoned, the farm animals that are drowned, the wildlife that is helplessly swept away.
We weep at the loss of homes and livelihoods, the destruction of communities and towns, the almost-unimaginable devastation left behind; we watch and we pray. And — even before the waters recede, we rise up: we take action, we donate bedding and blankets and bandages, we send camping gear and canoes and whatever money we can spare. We respond to the deluge with an outpouring of compassion.
We refuse to be wiped out; we will not allow all life to be destroyed by the waters of a flood. We will speak — and embody — the saving truth: our planet and its creatures are precious, all modeled on a sacred design; worth moving heaven and earth to save, to comfort, to restore.
Though mighty floods rise up against us, we shall not be removed. We call out to God, reminding the Holy One of the ancient Promise. And we become that Promise. In our compassion and passionate determination we create a bulwark, a defense that resists and repels what would destroy us. The holy nature within us — the divine spirit in which we live and move and have our being — lifts us up, strengthens us, and empowers us.
We, who were “made a little lower than angels,” embody the sacred Covenant in the work of our hands and the love in our hearts — in our fierce commitment to rescue operations, in our generosity, in our care for the injured, our protection of the vulnerable, our shelter of the homeless, and our respect for the bodies of the dead.
The cynical and disillusioned will demand: “Where is your God in this?” Look around.
Before the rainbow appears in the clouds, holy compassion streams forth to save, to comfort, to bless. The Light of grace shines brightly even in the darkest night, even in the midst of the most ferocious storm. We need not be afraid or despairing, for God is with us and within us, always.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes
which look with Christ's compassion on the world
Yours are the feet
with which He is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands
with which He is to bless the people now.
~ St. Teresa of Avila
Go forth and do good!
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.