Noah's family slowly acclimated to life at sea grateful for some relief from their physical discomforts. Traveling, even in the midst of the torrential downpour, became a new thrill. One by one the family found their sea legs and eventually the vomiting ceased. A continuous supply of fresh air from the sea breeze passing by the briskly moving boat replaced the putrid animal odors that had grown like well-fed monster-spirits in each room of the formerly fixed ark. They could even deposit their effluent into the ever deepening sea to help them keep a cleaner home. The traveling ark left the dead and dying farther and farther behind them. No more did they have to witness small lifeless bodies floating by; the prayer room window presented new and ever changing scenes. Early one morning they were greeted by the striking beauty of swaths of luminous magenta clouds in shades of deep blue sky as the sun rose over the vast oceanic horizon. It was on a similar exquisite morning that Japheth was ready to come clean.
Noah prayed during their fourth prayer gathering at sea, "O Lord God Who has delivered us from wickedness and death, and given us fresh clean air, and Who is taking us around Your world that You have made, having expressed our profound gratitude, we are ready to search deep within for anything we may have done to offend You, our good God." Noah prayed aloud in his daily attempt to purge from his troupe of survivors every vestige of sin, for Noah perceived that there was grave sin in their midst, but he didn't know for sure where it was from, although he suspected it was in Japheth.
During the week following the shock of dislocation and the sailing of the ark Ham sensed that he had changed. It was as if inside his body, he had become a different Ham. He had become softer, less judgmental, less demanding than he had known himself to be. This Ham wanted to speak up that morning in a more heartfelt and serious way than ever before, not just to please his father, but with a fervent need to be acceptable in the site of God.
"Lord God," said Ham, "please forgive me if...when, I have offended You." Then realizing that he needed to be more specific, he added, "I am truly sorry that I thought we were going to die too when the ark separated from the ground. I didn't trust You and I am ashamed of that and sorry." Everyone else nodded as if to join himself or herself to the confession of distrust, even Noah.
Then Coochie spoke up for the first time in a long while during the confession phase saying, "Lord, please forgive me for that too and also for lying with my brother when I was young. I didn't know what he was going to do, but I didn't stop him either. Please forgive me."
A few quiet gasps were swallowed by silence in which Noah's family realized that confession was for the purpose of expelling ALL impurities, no matter how old. There was little difference between what Coochie confessed and a splinter being removed from her skin. As painful as it was, the splinter and the sin had to be removed to prevent a fatal infection.
Perhaps no one was more shocked and upset at Coochie's confession than her husband Japheth. He was suddenly torn between processing in his heart what she confessed, and his own need to come clean. Japheth realized how brave Coochie had been to publicly state her sin so he decided that it was finally time to confess his crime. "Father, brothers and sisters, my mother, and our God, I confess that I killed a man in cold blood who did nothing to harm me, but only caught me stealing."
The many gasps that followed Japheth's confession were louder than those that followed Coochie's revelation. Japheth looked first across the circle at Coochie whose head was bowed to avoid his eyes, and then over at his father whose face did not reveal any shock. He didn't yet dare to look at his mother, but instead lowered his own head and added, "Father, forgive me. I am sorry. Over the years of harboring this crime, it didn't bother me until I entered this ark and we began our prayer gatherings. At first I continued to justify my actions, but in a strange way I gradually came to realize how wrong it was to cover one sin with an even worse one. I was still focused on myself. Then, I shifted to thinking about my victim. At first I tried to recollect every mean or terrible thing I had known him to say or do to convinced myself that he deserved his fate. It was only in the last few days that I came to understand that no man has either right or reason to end the life that God had given to another man. Taking his life was stealing too. It was stealing from the man his most precious possession, and it was stealing from God, our sovereign Lord, His own image and likeness that he imprinted on the man. I have no right to steal from God, even were a man to come to me pleading to be put out of his misery. His life is not even his own to give away or to destroy. May there never be murders in our new world. I am unworthy to be in this ark with you all or even in the new world." Japheth's eyes welled up with tears and his voice grew more and more labored until he couldn't speak another word.
Noah responded, "My son Japheth I am pleased that you came forth today with your crime. A sin repented and confessed is as ashes blowing in the wind. Your golden contrite heart is all that remains in you.. God will not despise that."
His brother Ham walked over to Japheth and hugged him tight for a moment, feeling in his own chest the beating of his brother's pounding remorseful heart. After he released Japheth Ham said, "Japheth, now that you have unburdened yourself from that crime, you are no longer the same man. You, the man who stands before us today, is not the same Japheth who would kill to retain a false reputation. By the way, what did you steal?"
Japheth looked up at his brother in confusion and replied, "What does it matter Ham? If you must know, it was a cloak."
"And where is that cloak now Japheth?"
Becoming exasperated at his brother's questions he replied, "At the bottom of the sea with everything else, what do you think?"
"I was just wondering, don't get mad. I'm sorry. You're right. It doesn't matter and it's over." Then Ham walked back to the space he had vacated in the circle, and wondered to himself why he had been so hard on Japheth.
Sha-me walked over to her son, and wrapped her motherly arms around him in a warm embrace. Coochie approached slowly too and hugged both mother and Japheth together.
The rest were silent, waiting to see what would happen next, who would come forth, but after a few quiet moments and the hugs unfolded no one else was ready to speak up, so Lazaria started to chant her Alleluias quietly; then, one by one the other voices joined hers until the family became a lovely bouquet of praise.
That morning was the beginning of a fast day. When the prayer service ended the family scattered. Japheth and Coochie went together to the rooftop to fetch some water for the animals and to reconnect their unburdened hearts; Shem quietly slipped away to visit the sheep and goats and to contemplate what had occurred. Lazaria went to collect the chicken eggs.
Sha-me came to appreciate the fasting days for on them she didn't have to cook. She could clean more. Sha-me felt instant gratification by transforming a messy space into a tidy one. A clean and tidy room was for Sha-me particularly calming. This morning she worked on the great room where they dined and lounged. When everyone had gone their own ways, the room was left cluttered and in need of her attention. A few hours later, she looked around to take in the effects of the transformation and smiled. Then she went to her own special spot in the ark to a dark corner where after her work was done and she felt calm and accomplished, she could be alone and speak to God.
As the old wicked world sunk deeper and deeper into the past it became easier for Sha-me to keep from thinking about the friends and relatives she left behind to die. She sensed a thrill welling up in her heart with anticipation of the day the ark would land in a new place. She wondered where it would be and how long it would take before they would be able to grow food again. Then it occurred to Sha-me though that when they landed, the family may disperse and each one of her son's would claim his own territory, and have his own fields for planting to feed his family and each young man would become the king of his own country. She and Noah would probably have to travel far and wide to be with their grandchildren. She hoped that Noah would be willing to travel so, after all how could she survive without her children and grandchildren to love and care for? Perhaps, thought Sha-me, that she and Noah could take turns living with each family.
When she considered that her future life could be lonely and isolated, Sha-me found a new appreciation for these days of living in a small crowded space with her children.
Noah left the prayer gathering more disturbed in his spirit than he had been in a long time. He had sensed for a while that Japheth was holding on tight to a secret, but he didn't know how severe it was. It struck him to think that his own son deserved to die for the same reason most of the others did. It was a gift, as if being handed his baby boy all over again to still have Japheth with them, to have his whole family together. These thoughts drew Noah into a sleep state where he dreamt that they were swimming in the sea, but that they could breathe. Japheth swam by him and as he passed Noah a stream of blood followed him. Japheth didn't notice that he was bleeding. Then a school of nine fish passed him too. They were drinking in the trail of blood that Japheth left behind. The fish were of different sizes and shapes. There was a flying fish, and a salmon, a mackerel and three small catfish, a rockfish, a perch, and a flounder. In the wake of the unusual school of various fish, the water became clear and phosphorescent. Noah looked around marveling at the beauty of the scene and at how easy it was for him to breathe under water, and how comfortable the temperature was. When he gradually woke up and gained consciousness, he resisted and closed his eyes in an attempt to fool his body into sleeping more so he could return to that blissful place. It didn't work, no matter how many different ways Noah tried to go back to sleep, he failed.
He finally gave up and lay there in the rapidly moving ark with the loud animals barking and hissing and roaring and purring, hooting and howling and chirping and growling. Determined to go back to that comfortable place under water he tried very hard to remember every detail and to recreate the scene in his conscious mind. Try as he might, it was gone and Noah was stuck with the reality of the moment, which would have been disappointing except that Noah was at that moment visited by a Spirit sent to explain to him a profound concept that God wanted Noah to relay to his family.
Sitting on the floor of a dark corner, a dead end of a maze Noah constructed for himself in the ark, where he could be alone to pray and listen, nap and think, a luminous foggy substance appeared. Noah witnessed this milky spirit approach him. He could see light but there was no form to it. Mesmerized by the light that gradually filled the formerly dark space where he sat to pray and nap, Noah saw a band of spinning energy come toward him and he felt it enter his body. At first he was terribly frightened because this experience had never happened to him before, even when he traveled in his heart and mind to God's throne room. He was paralyzed for a few moments, but then he gradually became accustomed to the sensation and sensed that he needed to relax which he was able to do by counting slowly. The words of the numbers gradually faded into silence and then other words came into his consciousness.
Noah was thinking, but they were not his thoughts, he could tell. They were from the luminous energy that Noah assumed to be an Angel of God who spoke to him, not as a teacher would, but rather as himself, from within, having merged with Noah's own consciousness. Noah gradually yielded to this experience, curious about what it would bring.
'We are eight people in this ark, only eight people alive in the whole entire world,' thought Noah. 'Each of us was created in the image and likeness of God. My sons were made in the image and likeness of me. Shem has my temperament, Japheth has my hair and hands, Ham has my face. Since we all are made in God's image we must be as His sons and daughters. God, the God of my grandfathers Enoch and Methusalah, the God of my father is as real and alive as we are except we cannot see Him. And yet, He has as much of a mind and heart as we have. He is opinionated, He is powerful. I can't even hope to understand Him, but I am in awe of Him.
This must mean that I was wrong when I said we are eight people alone in this world. God is a person too, and He is with us. We are nine. God told Adam and Eve to multiply themselves and fill the earth. But in reality He is multiplying Himself in us.' Noah was thoroughly enjoying where this train of thought was taking him. It seemed to him that this was even more enjoyable than his dream.
'In this ark each of us should be aware of being multiplied by our ninth Person. I wonder if it is like this energy, this angel, this spirit coming into me and thinking these thoughts with me?' Then Noah wondered if that was his thought or the angel's, but then he realized that he would never know and that it didn't matter.
God times me alone; nine times one equals nine. Me multiplied by God equals God, not me. How interesting!' thought Noah and continued.
Let me see. Sha-me and I are two. God, the ninth, times the two of us would equal eighteen. If I collapse that number, 8 + 1 = 9. Together we are in essence God.
To see if that problem was unique, Noah tried that with other numbers. 2 x 6 = 12. 1 + 2 collapses to three. Nope. 4 x 4 = 16 which collapse to 7. 'Oh my! Let's go back to nine,' he thought, or rather the Angel thought with him.
'My three sons times nine equals twenty-seven, which collapsed equals nine.' Noah started getting excited by how consistent that was. 'All eight of them times nine equals 72. 7 + 2 = ...9!'
Then he wondered what it meant to be multiplied? 'That number which multiplies another number incorporates the number into itself. By being multiplied by the ninthness of God, we become in essence, a nine. We become Him who is Spirit, we become Him as a physical person.'
Then Noah wondered why he thought God was the ninth. Shouldn't He be the first, since He was the Prototype for humanity? Maybe that was so, he thought, but that didn't change the concept of nine persons in the ark being somehow magical in how we nine shall multiply ourselves in a clean brand-new world. To think of God as the first would be adding Him, but nine multiplies so each of them incorporates the nine, there is no longer a first or second or third; we become nine together.
Noah wondered if God had given him three sons and their wives for the purpose of revealing to Noah at this moment, the special meaning of being a group of nine. 'In essence,' he thought, 'this is God's new way to show us men what it means to be made in His image and likeness, to become absorbed in Him and He in us as a group, not as individuals.'
Next in the string of mathematical philosophy, Noah was led to consider adding nine to any number and immediately saw that the concept of becoming like their Holy Ninth Person failed miserably. He and Sha-me + God equaled 3 three, not one or nine. The eight of them plus the Ninth person added up to 17, which collapsed to eight, not nine. Adding nine to any number collapses to be the original number. The Nine is lost. It didn't take long for Noah to realize that one could not become like God by adding God to himself or to herself. God is not just another Person, perhaps because He is not material, He can only be incorporated as multiplication does, not added. Then Noah wondered if this was why God told them to multiply and fill the earth, not to add more people. He wanted humankind to continue to multiply Himself on the earth.
Noah knew in his heart that he was only being told something that he instinctively knew all along, that God lived in His children, and not beside them.
Noah was content with these thoughts, and then remembered the nine fish of his dream and smiled to himself. His growing grin reflected the awe Noah felt for God, His brilliance and power, even His fancifulness. Noah wasn't sure how he could explain his new revelation to his family simply, but he thought if he could, perhaps the message would teach humankind their integral relationship with their Creator and Father.
Enthralled by the concept, and as spiritually leader, Noah decided that when he and his family had a special request to make of God, then they would compose a prayer and say it every day for nine days in a row...to remind God that they are imbued with Him. Being multiplied by the Ninth Person in their ark, the new creation of humankind in the image and likeness of God is their way of becoming less the people they were and more the children of God that they wanted to be. It was then that Noah began to see his family as small gods with a large mission.
Noah sensed the luminous energy gradually seeping out from deep within him, while at the same time he perceived that he had changed. The Spirit had left behind a new Noah, a wiser Noah. In the calm still darkness Noah sat stunned by the visitation. The weeks of effort, and high emotion of fasting and praying, of repentance and purification came to rest on the fact that all of this was happening for the salvation of their family, no, for the salvation of humankind.
"Father, father are you down there!"hollered Shem. "Come quick, I want to show you something! Hurry!