A Sign of Hope
I opened up the envelope and there was a picture of a large boat, a man with a long beard, and more animals than I could count. My father-in-law had sent a card for my daughter with a depiction of the well-known story: Noah and the Ark.
The Ark served Noah and his family well. It kept them dry and safe in the face of a catastrophic flood. However, the day came when Noah was ready to get out of the Ark. So, he opened a window and sent a dove out to find a sign of life. The dove returned with nothing. What a disappointment. Then seven days later, Noah sent out the dove again. This time, the dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak. Can you imagine the joy Noah must have felt as he ran to tell his wife and children, “A leaf, a leaf! We are going to get out of this ark and step back onto dry land!”
The olive leaf was a sign of hope; a sign of new life. It was a sign that God’s promises would come true and that Noah and his family would be taken care of.
I think there is more than one connection between the story of Noah and our lives today. We’ve experienced a flood of sorts, i.e. a global pandemic. It has affected every one of us in one way or another. Whether you know someone who has gotten sick, experienced financial stress, or is missing the embrace of friends and family, this pandemic has had a catastrophic effect. Yet, you have been given an Ark of sorts, i.e. Beacon Hill. Living here has kept the vast majority of you safe from the virus. Your Ark has done its job, but like Noah, you are ready to get out of the Ark. You are ready for a new beginning. A life with no masks or social distancing.
Yet, as you look at your window, you probably don’t see the dove flying towards you with the olive leaf in its beak. Instead, you see a world of chaos and turmoil. You see violence, fear, and unrest.
In a time like this, what is your olive leaf? What is your sign of hope that is helping you get through this day?
In the Christian Scriptures, the dove is a symbol for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon Jesus at his Baptism and descends upon the early believers at Pentecost. The Spirit bears fruit, maybe not an olive leaf, but the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Can these virtues be your signs of hope today? Perhaps, you’ve had a moment of profound patience or love that you just can’t explain. Perhaps, you were having a hard day, but still found the strength to encourage a friend. Maybe you have been able to find hints of goodness in the midst of consistent bad news.
Each of these moments can serve as reminders that the challenges we face today will not have the final say. We may have to stay in the Ark a while longer, but there is still hope that good abounds.
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson