ALIVE: Chapter 15 - The Second Sabbath

Everyone including the recently resurrected Lazaria rushed to the rooftop of the ark to look around at the crystal clear air that surrounded them. One after the other lifted the palms of his and her hands above their heads and waited for raindrops to fall on them, but not a droplet was to be felt. It was hard to grasp that they could stand outside and not be pelted with rain. Coochie thought that she was dreaming. Lazaria was speechless. Sha-me was thrilled. It stopped raining. It actually stopped raining. Surely, thought Ham, it will start again soon. Aurelia, read his mind and said, "No Ham, father told us that it would only rain for forty days. Look around, there is nothing but ocean as far as our eyes can see." Japheth added, "What else is there for the rain to do? It has already swallowed everything and everyone we knew."

Any of you readers who has been at sea in an ocean liner can recall the scene of an oceanic earth. Only this boat had no destination. It wandered aimlessly pushed by the wind and pulled by the moon's waves. There was no land on the entire planet where a two or four legged mammal or reptile, or even an insect could go to run or smell the roses, or eat the roses. There were no roses. Just ocean, ark, animals, and nine Persons, including God, in the whole universe.

"Let's celebrate!" exclaimed Sha-me.

"Time to get my bucket of wine! Now where did I hide that thing?" said Noah with a mischievous grin.

"I know!" said Ham.

"How do you know?" replied Noah bruskly. "There had better be some left."

"There is plenty left father. I'll get it." Ham scurried away to avoid any further interrogation with Noah at his heels.

Lazaria chimed in,"Shem, can we make music? I mean with instruments?"

"Sure darling, I started to make a drum a while back. I don't think it would take much to finish it. Japheth, come and help me. I think we could even knock out a flute. Let's try. How about if we plan for the party time to begin at sunset?"

Shem and Japheth went off to make musical instruments.

The ladies went to clean up the great room and decide what foods to prepare. There was still some dried fruit and nuts, but they had to be careful thought Sha-me because they didn't have any idea of how long the food had to last. Aurelia went to the hen room to check for fresh eggs.

Noah followed Ham to the stash of wine and was relieved to see that Ham had not found his hiding place. Ham must have discovered someone else's hiding place. Perhaps Japheth's. Noah sipped the wine and told Ham to take it to the gathering room, then went to fetch his own better vintage.

Ham chuckled when he saw his father come into the room with another bucket. After setting down their spirits the men remembered to go tend the animals stalls and feed them. Noah told Ham to select a few of the cutest ones to come and celebrate with them. The little newborn lamb was sure to be one, and there were several friendly small dogs and cats.

"Ham, wash up our party-animals, while I go to the gathering room and repair the window to stay open." ordered Noah.

"Okay father." replied Ham while playing tug-a-rope with a spaniel.

Miraculously, by sunset everyone was ready. The table was strewn with delicacies. Lazaria, Shem and Japheth entered the gathering room ceremoniously with Lazaria chanting in the lead and her musical accompaniments following in lock step.

Behind the band and singer marched in Ham with his sparkling clean and sweet-smelling menagerie. The little animals were obviously joyous too, prancing and pawing at each other. If an animal could ever smile, these surely did that day. The family all felt a New Year's Eve type thrill of blissful wonderment.

With repetitive strokes of cheer the family was erasing from their minds the days of fasting, the horror of the dead and dying, the grief of abandoning their friends and family. All hearts faced forward wrapped in hope and optimism. Solidarity with each other made each man and woman feel as if he or she too experienced Lazaria's resurrection.

God looked upon His joyful family and saw a thin motley crew, but He knew that they were stronger within than ever before. Stronger than any human had ever been. He was proud of them, each and every one of them made God proud to be called his and her Father. God too wanted to forget the early scenes of the dead and dying. God witnessed the carnage much more than anyone else and it troubled Him, but now was the time to put all that aside. He even wanted to forget the death of Lazaria which troubled Him more than any other death; it was a reminder to Him that no matter how much He loved the human, the curse of death would not could not, at least not yet, be undone.

God wanted to contribute to the festivities, so He gave the family a spectacularly stunning and luminous sunset, with a full moon on the other side of the sky. He blew away all the clouds, opening the heavens to a million stars that filled the evening sky with light for their party. Then God tapped Noah to be the first to notice. Noah casually caste his eyes over his shoulder through the window and stopped in utter amazement at the beauty of the evening sky. When at last he calmed down enough to speak, he pointed up and said, "Look!"

Eight faces looked up at the blazing sunset and gasped in unison. Their faces blossomed into big smiles knowing Who painted the sky for them. No one had experienced such sheer joy before.

After admiring the sunset, everyone at the party resumed their chatter; they had fun playing with the little animals and danced as they never danced before to rhythms pounded out by Ham on the drums, with Japheth on the flute. Shem's accentuated the rhythm with his new high-pitched hollow sticks. Playing the sticks did not prevent Shem from wondering about the coincidence of Lazaria's resurrection with the end of the 40 days of rain. He knew that everything God does is meaningful and purposeful. It was a puzzle that he wanted to solve.

God knew that Shem would not be able to solve this riddle because he could not see the day millennia in the future when Christ would ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, as His mother thus rode into Bethlehem the day before He was born into this world. A secret, quiet procession followed by a loud public one, yet both on the back of a lowly donkey. Shem could not know about the foreshadowing of victory, the small entrance, that this 40th day, this minor resurrection represented for humankind. He could not know that the darkest days of humanity, even the darkest days for God Himself lay ahead.

Shem continued to wonder and marvel. He wondered that, if God was one of them, one of the nine of them, as his father said He was, then Shem wondered if God felt the pain of separation, of the death of Lazaria. Did God weep for her too? Shem believed that he felt dead without Lazaria, and he wondered if God felt dead too when Lazaria stopped chanting her alleluias forever? Shem pondered these things without conclusion while hammering out his rhythm on the sticks.

How tragic is the death of even one beloved person? Shem knew that someday each person had to die. After all, that was the curse on Adam and Eve that could not be undone, until someone, perhaps it would have to be God himself, opened the path to the Tree of Life.

He sensed that the lesson of the ark was not that they would never die, but unity with God, the creator and with each other, loving God as they loved each other, with patience and care, forgiveness when needed, gave the humans a power to come back from death, to overcome death, just as Lazaria demonstrated to them. It was a lesson he hoped never to forget no matter how long he lived after the ark experience. 'How God must have suffered when Lazaria left us,' thought Shem.

Shem's thoughts of Lazaria's death turned to death itself. What really died, once and for all time thought Shem was the world with all of those angry people doing whatever they could to prevail and exploit each other. That is what died, thought Shem, because it never really lived. Those people didn't understand life because they didn't understand God. They were so much like the animals that had to die. The purification period that they went through during the past forty days was not an end in itself but contributed to their ability to see clearly, to comprehend the mystery of resurrection of life in God. Every evil person died, but because Lazaria was full of love and self sacrifice, she could be resurrected, even from the death of her body.

Shem was sure that had they eaten and caroused as they did in the days before entering the ark, they would not have been capable of uniting with God as they did. He remembered when he, like Ham, was focused on physical pleasure. How could an animal experience the ecstasy of the realization of the power of God within it? How could an animal, so different from a human comprehend the possibility of immortality?