It’s such a bizarre world we live in today, that I can sit here behind the safety of my computer screen and literally watch the lives of thousands of people crumble.
Throughout the day, I’ve been checking on the updates from Japan and the rest of the globe affected by the earthquake and tsunamis. Technology can make me feel so helpless at times. I can watch live footage of highways in Japan with vehicles the scale of matchbox cars driving desperately away from the inevitable flood of wreckage and debris. I can watch it happening in the actual moment that it happens, but I can do nothing about it.
Although, I suppose when the earth decides to move below our feet, there’s not much anyone do about it.
In one of those bizarre coincidences that defy explanation, I spent a few hours yesterday morning researching flood mythology across cultures. Why? Because I’m a gigantic nerd, obviously. I’ve been reading Edith Hamilton's Mythology aloud to Madeline at night this week because I’ve run out of new reading material. Two nights ago, I came to the story of Deucalion and Pyhrra. For not the first time, I started thinking about how bizarre it is that nearly every culture on the planet has a flood myth that’s virtually the same as that of Noah and his ark.
While I’m not a practicing religious person, religion has always fascinated me. I get particularly fascinated by the possible links between myth, religion, and science. In my mind, it’s all interconnected. I like to believe that thousands and thousands of years ago, there was a real flood that devastated the lives of many people. It was so devastating, in fact, that the story got retold until it almost became a part of the human subconscious.
While revisiting my notes from yesterday’s nerd-arrific philosophizing, I had written “REBIRTH-Cleansing of Humanity,” in the margins.
That’s the most common element between all the flood myths. When the waters recede, humanity is born again, only stronger.
Water almost always symbolizes a cleansing or rebirth. It’s why water is used in baptisms. It continuously shows up literature…rivers, oceans, and storms. It’s why so many pivotal moments in movies take place in the rain…because when the storm is over, the characters are forever changed. Water in these instances, is a cleansing.
I don’t mean to suggest that the people who are being affected by today’s natural disasters are in any way better off for what has happened. Lives will be lost, lives will be devastated…things will never quite be the same.
My point is, however, that tomorrow people will begin to rebuild and start anew as we always have from the very beginning of time. It gives me comfort to think that the human spirit always starts afresh. That it is continuously reborn and renewed even in the face of incredible heartache and disaster. That it can never truly be squelched.
And for the millions of people merely watching the events unfold, it reminds us to care for our fellow man. Prayers will be whispered, volunteers will flock, and money will be donated.
People like me, who sit safely behind my computer screen, will be reminded to hold loved ones a little closer, to be a little more thankful for all that we have, to look at the world through new eyes…if only for a few hours…instead of focusing on all the negative, unimportant events surrounding us. So in that way, we are cleansed and reborn as well.