God said: “This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being.”
Think about a time when you experienced great loss. Where did you find hope in the midst of that loss? What was your rainbow?
I felt a new sense of kinship with Noah when my community experienced a great flood in 2008. The river running through our town rose more than eleven feet higher than it had ever risen before. The water covered more than 10 square miles of the city, impacting 5,390 homes. In the middle of great loss, many of us found hope in humor. Here are a few examples:
- My dad and his coworkers spent a day sandbagging their company’s building in what turned out to be a woefully inadequate effort to protect it from the rising waters. They were told not to come to work the next day, when the waters were expected to crest. One of his coworkers asked if that would be considered a “floating holiday.”
- As the flood waters rose, I was at the hospital where I worked, sandbagging critical equipment in the lower levels of the building, and helping to evacuate the patients to other hospitals. At one point during the night, as I was slogging through standing water, the automatic system announced a fire in an area of the hospital that was completely underwater. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t one, but if there was, Mother Nature had it taken care of.
- Because of the flood, the theater company was not able to go forward with a Shakespeare performance that was planned on the grounds of a local historic mansion. The costumes had been destroyed, and many of the people couldn’t make it to rehearsals. Instead, they put together an original show about the flood. It incorporated flood stories from different cultures, and visual art that took shape before our eyes. My favorite part, though, was a song about how the flood inspires love. Only it wasn’t about the love of neighbor that inspires people to help each other sandbag before the flood and clean up after. It was a tongue-in-cheek song about the “flood studs,” the hot National Guard soldiers, police officers and fire fighters that the flood brought to town. Remarkably, this song captured my flood experience quite well. I had the fun of staying up one night filling sandbags with a couple of hot guys, and then saw the same two guys working to save the hospital the next night.
- As soon as the water receded, clean-up began. While taking a break from tearing out the damaged drywall in my coworker’s home, someone noticed the plants in front of the house, drooping under the weight of the grime left by the flood waters. “Your plants aren’t looking too good,” he said, “I think they need some water.”
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of hope in the midst of loss: for laughter and rainbows, for hugs and helping hands, for compassion and empathy, and for reminding us that we are never alone.