Dr. Jay McDaniel and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson Photography by Susannah Stubbs
Photo: Susannah Stubbs, Artist in Residene, Open Horizons
There are so many arks today. The earth is an ark, to be sure, now threatened by global warming. And each person's body is an ark as well. There are as many arks as there are people. Other animals' bodies are arks, too. And sometimes, for all creatures, as we float in our arks, the seas can seem so stormy.
Where does hope come from? It comes from fresh possibilities we discover in our imaginations: possibilities for thinking and feeling and acting in creative and adaptive ways, relative to what is happening within and around us. Possibilities for wisdom and compassion, joy and justice, resilience and courage.
Process theologians like Rabbi Bradley Artson (see below) propose that these fresh possibilities are one way that a Life in whose heart our lives and the whole universe unfolds is present within us. They are, as it were, God's ever-streaming daylight.
The daylight is very powerful, as Rabbi Artson explains in God Almighty? No Way!, but it is not all-powerful. We have to make windows in order to let the daylight in. God needs our window-making.
Window making is one of the most important tasks of the rabbi, the priest, the imam, the sage. It is his or her calling. And it is also a task of every human being. We human beings make worlds for one another. Our calling, too, is to be window makers.
-- Jay McDaniel
"This week's Torah portion contains one of the most famous biblical stories... I'm talking about Noah's ark and the flood. God so despairs of the violence in the world that God turns to one of the righteous people in his generation - Noah and his family -- tells them to build an ark big enough to contain all the species of animals alive in dry land and to be able to bring their families on board to survive the flood to repopulate the planet...In giving very detailed instructions God also tells him to make an opening for daylight in the ark...It's not just make a window, that's noticeable, too....Even in the midst of the storm and darkness, it's important to build a place that has light coming in. The purpose of it isn't just fresh air; the purpose of it, God says, is for daylight. You have to let in the daylight even in the midst of the worst storm. I want to hold that up to all of us as we weather the storms of our own lives and of our own challenging times. No matter how bad things get, it's really important to go out of your way to let the daylight in. It's not that God says leave an opening, you have to make an opening. So no matter how bleak it is, you find a way to make an opening so the light can come through. You find a way to bring your consciousness to notice the light. .It's never so dark that there can't be a hint of light. And that to me is a symbol of hope...There has to be a way to choose hope, to create hope, making it visible for ourselves and others."