After the Flood (excerpt from “Survival,” in HAD EVE COME FIRST AND JONAH BEEN A WOMAN)

Once the waters had receded and the face of the earth was dry. Nochat went from the ark, she and her children and grandchildren. And every pair of animals: the ferrets and gazelles, the ibex and asps, all left the ark.

When every animal had crept or leaped or flown to the north, the south, the east, or west, Nochat looked at the desolation around her and felt a great emptiness. Nothing she had known remained. She sat upon the ground, rested her head against her arms, and wept.

After a while she lifted her face and called out to God, “What kind of mother are you, that you would strangle your own child because it is willful? What kind of God are you that you would create animals as lovely as gazelles, as clever as foxes, as playful as goats, then kill them? What kind of God creates beautiful trees and flowers then destroys them?”

From nearby came the faint sound of weeping. The weeping became loud sobs. Then a haunting keen pierced the stillness of the desolate landscape.

“What have I done?” Nochat heard God wail. “What have I done?”

Nochat rose and approached Creator. Put her arms around God. Let God cry against her breast.

“I convinced myself that my rebellious children deserved my wrath. In the beginning I had such hopes and dreams, imagining everything to stay as it was. But I lost control of my children, and when I gazed upon all I had created, I decided it no longer had any value.”

God said nothing for a while, simply sat there nestled against Nochat’s breast, heaving sobs of such immenseness that only God can heave.

“It is as if I have cut off my own breast,” she cried out, “plunged a knife into my own heart. I now see that to destroy what I created was to destroy part of myself.”

For days the two of them remained in that place, God regretting the devastation she had wrought, Nochat lamenting the loss of the earth and people and animals she had loved.

One day God heaved a sigh and said, “Though my mourning will never cease, it is time for me to set about recreating. But first, Nochat, I will make a promise. I promise you and your descendents and every living creature that has come to this place on the ark, I promise that I will never again release the waters to destroy the earth by flood.”

“After all the destruction you have wrought, how am I to believe you?”

“This will be a sign of my covenant. I will place a colorful bow in the sky. When you look upon it, you will be reminded that you do not need to fear my wrath. Yes, the bow will be a sign of the covenant between us.”

And at that Nochat went to get the family’s mildewed garments out of the ark, so that she might spread them in the sun.

God set about rebuilding the earth.

(HAD EVE COME FIRST AND JONAH BEEN A WOMAN, by Nancy Werking Poling, published by Wipf & Stock, 2010. Available in paperback and on Kindle.)

COMMENT by the author, considering the devastation Harvey caused: I don’t believe God caused this disaster. Surely she weeps over the people’s suffering and the massive destruction.