What a Zoo!
I've been to a number of zoos in my day, but never was a zoo quite like this one! As I stood at the edge of the road, I watched more animals than I'd ever seen before cluster at one side of what looked like an enormous hulk made of wood. Many of the animals stood quietly, while others lay on the ground, some chewing their cud, some with eyes closed.
What amazed me most was that there were no moats, no cages, no separations at all between the different species. Lions stood close to sheep, snakes lay coiled near rats and rabbits. None snarled or howled or attacked. Birds weighed down near-by tree branches because of their abundance, but none swooped down to snatch away a mouse or smaller bird with its talons.
What an aggregate it was! In perfect order, too. Far down the line, the animals were moving toward what appeared to be a gangplank that opened to a yawning hole in the side of the towering wooden framework. An endless stream of fur and feathers mounted the ramp and disappeared into the cavity of the monstrosity.
Captivated by the scene before me, I suddenly became aware of how hot I was in the scorching sun. I longed for relief, but was totally unwilling to relinquish my place along the road as the panoply of earth's creatures continued their march. It was simply fascinating.
Surprisingly, I felt no fear as a pair of lions came fairly close to where I stood. They paid no attention to me at all. In fact, it was as if I didn't exist in their world, so bent were they on following the herd to board what was shaped like a huge boat.
As the sun rose higher and higher, I perspired profusely and pulled out my handkerchief to mop my forehead. It was hot!
I squelched a yelp when an enormous shadow overcame me from behind, blotting out the sun's rays completely. Whirling around, I faced a creature that towered above me! It somewhat resembled a man in form, but the face was grotesque and its stature awkward. I felt dwarfed standing next to him, for he had moved very close now and stared down at me...he must have been 12 to 13 feet tall...a big brute!
He studied me for a moment, then roared, harsh and grating, "What are you doing here!??"
I hardly knew what to say. He demanded, "Haven't you seen animals before?"
"Oh, yes, sir." My voice wavered..."but never as well-behaved and compliant as these are. It's amazing to watch and quite gratifying."
"Gratifying...schmatifying! You're a fool, just like he is!"
I certainly didn't intend to begin an argument, but asked anyway---"Like who is, if you don't mind my asking?"
"That imbecile! Noah! He's a real nut case!"
"In what way do you mean, sir? To make animals behave the way he does appears to me to be a mark of genius."
An annoying sound, like scraping fingernails on a chalkboard, filled the air---he was grinding his fanglike teeth! I must have hit a hot button! For a moment I thought he was going to strike or kick as he glowered at me. Instead, he pointed at a tilted yard sign covered with what appeared to be raw egg and tomatoes. I could barely make out the writing through all the garbage on its face: NOAH'S FOLLY. Someone had crossed out 'NOAH' and written 'FOOL'S' over it, instead.
"From the looks of the sign, it seems that he has some enemies," I exclaimed. "Why is he so unpopular?"
In a fit of anger, the surly beast stomped his foot and the earth beneath me trembled! He stood for a moment, as if contemplating whether he should or shouldn't. Then, without a word, he skulked away.
I breathed a sigh of relief, thankful I was still in one piece! I turned to continue watching the scene before me when I discovered I wasn't alone after all. Standing next to me was a man of normal stature and build.
"Perhaps I can address your questions," he offered. "But let me warn you first. You really shouldn't talk with giants. They're a mean sort. We tolerate them, because we have no choice, and, as you can see for yourself, their size means we have to respect them or face the consequences."
He looked toward the animals to measure their progress, then returned his attention to me. "You're referring to Mr. Noah, I presume. For 120 years he has been hauling wood and pounding and molding that contraption he calls an ark. It's huge, because Noah says he must have space for every kind of animal known to earth. The guy has an enormous ego and an even bigger imagination! He plans to load all the animals, plus enough food to support the whole lot, just as you see happening before your eyes!"
"But the fact is, it is happening, just as you say he predicted it would! That's proof in itself that something special is going on, even supernatural." The number of animals left to board had grown smaller now.
As the story unfolded, my curiosity grew. "I have another question, then." At this point, I had to side with Mr. Noah. All I had seen and heard thus far contradicted that he had a mental problem. "If Mr. Noah is so crazy, pray tell, where did the animals come from in the first place and how did he get even birds to fly here? They're hard to pin down!! He must be a man of unusual abilities!" I watched the animals continue to mount the ramp and enter the ark.
A string of curse words escaped the chap's lips before he answered. "That fool said, in his own words, 'God will bring them when it's time.' When it's time!! What kind of swell head is he to decide he's important enough for 'God' to single him out for a favor like that!?"
As we stood and talked, it was obvious that animals and birds galore had gone into the ark, while more continued to move in that direction. It was not my imagination that I saw what I saw! It was astounding and it was for real!
"A few days ago, animals began wandering in from all directions," the man offered. "We were all scared to death, but they didn't bother us at all. Birds flew into the trees that I never saw before. Noah just stood and watched with a huge smile all over his face." The man paused, deep in thought, then opined, "Simple people smile a lot, you know. Silly grins! They have no sense."
In truth, the man's logic made no sense. How could he witness such a miracle taking place and not embrace its significance? He watched the animals awhile longer in deep silence. What he saw only propelled his thoughts in a different direction. "He claims we are going to be deluged by water and everything on earth will perish in it. That's why he's so worried about the animals. Something about 'saving God's creation.'"
Where's the Water?
"A flood is fearsome," I replied. "At least he's warned everybody, so you won't be caught unaware."
Whew! That was the wrong thing to say! The man let fly another tirade of cursing with drawn fists. I pulled back, but refused to yield my ground. "It's only fair to listen to a man who's more concerned about his neighbors than he is his reputation!" I explained. "You can prepare for what's coming, too!"
The man gasped, then regained his composure. "There's one detail you constantly overlook: the man is paranoid! Psychotic! He believes someone in the sky talks to him that he calls God." He laughed uproariously. "To put it another way, he even says God is going to wipe out our civilization with the flood. Noah says the only ones who will be saved will be those on that ark thing he built. Who does he think he is, anyway?"
"But what if he's right and you're wrong? Did you ever consider that possibility? A flood sounds like a fearsome thing!"
Our conversation intensified. "A flood of what? A mist comes up out of the ground and waters the plants and trees, but he continually talks about a flood." His voice rose, his anger roiling just below the surface. "Where's all that water going to come from? I'm telling you: he's a crackpot!"
I had to tread carefully, but was still curious, so bit my tongue and let him go on talking.
"Don't get him started! He's talked this flood thing so much I just tune him out when he gets going. So does everybody else."
"OK. What you're telling me is extraordinary! So, who else is going on the ark besides Noah and the animals?"
"His family, of course! They're as crazy as he is. A wife, three sons and their wives. Eight of 'em in all. Anyone who wants to join them is more than welcome, but who wants to sit and rot in a boat on dry land? It's part of his delusion and I don't plan to feed into it one little bit!"
Though I had begun to see who really had a problem, I tried to be as courteous as possible. "I appreciate your explanation." I didn't want to rile him anymore, seeing he really believed what he told me.
His ranting continued. "I can't waste my time palavering over such nonsense just to humor a crazy man. Our daughter's getting married next weekend with a huge reception. My wife and I have lots to do yet. Noah can worry about his own boat!"
He turned to leave, but I still had a few more questions. "Wait, sir, if you will. Let me make this one last observation. Somebody's had to believe this Noah character at least a little bit. After all, he didn't build such a huge structure by himself...or did he?"
"His sons helped. They work on it constantly. In fact, coming to watch them became a pastime for a lot of us in our spare time. We couldn't believe people would devote their whole lives to such a futile operation for nothing!"
"But how could Noah afford to build such a colossal piece of work as it is? It's enormous! Not a cheap undertaking at all!"
The guy was antsy, anxious to get going. Yet he wouldn't leave any loose ends to the story. "Way back when, he hired some of the giants to carry timber from the forests to the work site. " He must have assumed that because I had talked with one of them, I knew more giants existed. I didn't interrupt his stream of conversation as he talked on.
"They shaped the wood into workable slabs and beams. They're experts at building and doing with their hands and brawn." The guy didn't seem at all bothered that huge men lived among the people of the area. Not my opinion! They were eerie and threatening.
He continued. "He had to pay them, of course. Their stoney hearts won't do anything for free. They do favors for no one...we're the ones who must do favors for them!"
I pressed for more answers. "To pay for this much wood and the labor to shape it takes a lot of change, brother! If Noah and his family worked on the boat all the time, how could he afford to pay anybody, I ask you again? How could he afford all the supplies, the labor, and continue to eat and clothe his family at the same time?"
The guy looked shocked at my question. His answer was a bit glib.
"Oh, Noah is quite the husbandman. He grows some of the best grapes in the region and his wine goes for a hefty price!" The more he talked, the more he seemed sure he was right. "He's a real hand with animals, too. His boys have their own crops and herds, as well. They have no trouble getting top price for their goods. Oh, he did mention several times that he enjoys the favor of God! Who knows what that is? But he seems so sure about it."
By this time, the man was shifting from one foot to another, anxious to leave. I had to bring our discussion to a close. "120 years is a mighty long time, but the boat is mighty large, too. He must be a very patient man. Don't you suppose the God Mr. Noah believes in and talks about helped him, too?"
The guy bristled, but it stirred his thinking, anyway. "When he comes to town for supplies, Noah brags that he's the subcontractor under God, who's his general contractor."
"Well, that's a novel way to put it!" I was stricken more and more with the brilliance of the boat builder. "He relies on God. That's what we're all supposed to do!"
My words hit the man like a bolt of lightning. He literally jumped into the air with revulsion, but he said nothing!
"You know," I added, "from all I can see and hear, it sounds to me like this guy, Noah, is a brilliant man. He's a good farmer, a shrewd businessman, a skilled builder..."
"Wait a minute! You're gaslighting me! Noah's crazy and now I think you are, too! That boat thing of his sits high off the ground and the closest stream of water is blocks away. But you think he's brilliant? He's nuts and so are you!"
The man's nostrils flared. Right in my face, his hot breath hit my cheeks as he spit out, "I don't have time for Mr. Noah and his folly, much less for the voice he calls God. We have a good life going right here---plenty to eat, good economy, lots of things to do..."
By now the sun had gone under a cloud and the awful heat of the day abated. The gangplank on the ark's side had been pulled up to close the hole. All the animals and birds were gone. The ark was full!
"Nothing you or anyone else says to me will change my mind," he growled, oblivious to what was going on at the ark. "I have to go now. I would tell you I've enjoyed our conversation but I haven't. You've gone off the deep end, just like Noah. Good riddance to both of you!" Off he stomped.
A cold raindrop hit my nose, making me jump. I startled my wife, who was asleep in bed next to me. She sat up in a daze and shouted, "Are you OK?"
I lay in a cold sweat. It took a few minutes for me to gain my composure and figure out where I was.
"Honey," I said. "Jesus told us the last days would be exactly like the days of Noah...and I just saw them. Scoffers, giants, wickedness...it was awful. But in the midst of it all, God kept working miracles and Noah stood fast for God. We must, too. We have to try to get our family and friends on board while there's still time. There still is time!"