23 Apr

by Wade Rockett

Story written for the April 15, 2006 Easter Vigil liturgy at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore, WA.

I, the mountain Ararat, one of the highest upon the Earth; to the small crawling things: grace and peace be upon you, and glory and honor to our Shaper above, whose triple peaks shine like the sun, and whose slopes endure forever. Amen.

You have asked me to tell what I remember of the Great Flood. I was there, of course, although I was new then. We, the highest, were all new: formed in ancient darkness beneath the deep waters, we rose at the Shaper’s call to break the surface with a crash and a roar, sending wet spray skyward from our slopes. We became land, hills, mountains, valleys, canyons, rocks, boulders, the Shaper’s love made manifest in hard stone, glowing gems, veins of hidden gold.

We are stone and stone is strong; but water – the first-made of Creation – is stronger still. Water erodes, dissolves, cracks, breaks mountains into gravel and sweeps the pieces into the sea. It was the Shaper’s mercy that brought forth dry land from the waters of creation. It was the Shaper’s wrath that would now plunge the land, and all that lived upon it, back into the deeps.

I do not know for certain why the Shaper loosed the waters of creation from their bonds. I gathered that the small, crawling things made in the Shaper’s image had forsaken the great Law and had begun to do violence to one another. The Shaper, in his infinite love, had tried without success to call them back. Therefore in his terrible justice, the Shaper would destroy them.

We, the highest upon the earth, were told of the Shaper’s intentions; and also the bright ones who attend the Shaper were told; and two of every kind of small crawling thing upon the Earth, they were told that they might be saved; and finally, one of the sons of Adam was told.

His name was Noach, which means Rest, though it is hard to imagine how any of Adam’s race, which scurry to and fro their whole, brief lives could be named “rest”. Noach made tools from grains of stone, and used them to knock down many small trees. We watched as Noach stacked and bound them together to make a tiny thing that would float on water. It seemed impossible that such a thing would withstand the fury of the storm.

Then the small things that crawl upon the Earth came to Noach from every direction. They crossed fields and plains, and swam through rivers. Beasts from the icy North passed through villages in the far South. The people stared at them in fear and wonder as they passed solemnly through, and did not understand what they saw.

Then the sluices of heaven opened and waters poured down in a torrent, and burst forth from the deep places of earth. As the small crawling things dashed about to escape the waters, even I knew fear. The waters crashed against my sides, shattering rocks and stripping my slopes bare. I wondered if it were the Shaper’s will that I, too, be cast down.

But the waters rose about me and I was not cast down. The flood closed over my highest peak; I was submerged in the deeps. The small things upon the earth swirled about me in the darkness; they sank, and vanished; I saw them no more. Then the waters rose still higher, and the creatures of the sea were all around me. The shadows of whales passed across my slopes. Crabs scuttled through my caves.

In those moments, Time itself seemed undone by the Shaper’s wrath. I do not know how long I lay in that dark netherworld in which even the highest upon the earth were hidden from the sight of heaven.

But then there was a flicker of light far above me. The brightness grew, until dimly I saw the burning sun through the rippling surface of the waters. Then my topmost peak broke through; waves foamed against me, and the sun warmed me. For the second time in the world’s history, the Shaper brought forth dry land upon the earth.

Mountains have voices, though they are seldom raised. I raised mine then in glad song. As I sang, I noticed a tiny piece of wave-tossed wood floating toward me. It was the thing built by Noach, to float himself and his kin and the remainder of the earth’s small things upon the flood. Wood scraped against stone as it settled onto an outcropping near my peak.

The other mountains heard my song and joined their voices to mine. Cave and summit, fissure and fault, soil and stone rang with glory and thanksgiving to the Shaper, whose triple peaks are capped with snow that never melts, and whose slopes are mantled with flowers of gold.

As our song boomed across the waters, I saw something fly out from a tiny, dark opening in the side of Noach’s ark. Sunlight flashed on its beating wings as it soared toward the horizon. It dwindled to a speck, and then disappeared from view.

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