Pressing Reset

ResetIn the six-hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. The rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights. 
—Genesis 7: 11-12

When I was growing up, I have vivid memories of summer hours spent sitting around my friend’s bedroom tethered to gray box.  His Nintendo and accompanying milk crate of jumbled game cartages filled our teenage-world with a virtual second dimension populated with endless car races and digitized Italian plumbers. One thing that always intrigued me about this virtual world that filled our summer days was the ever-present possibility of a new beginning when our artificial world failed us.  There, on the front of the Nintendo, was an enduring sign of hope, the key to new possibilities.  My friend’s game console had a reset button.  With one press, the TV screen would flicker, the game would reload, and what had gone wrong with our virtual lives before would reset, giving us a second chance and the prospect of a better outcome than our (virtual) life in its previous iteration. 

That charcoal plastic button with its red block letter always pops into my head when I read the above passage from the Noah story in the book of Genesis.  Clearly, the world as God imagined it was not going the way God had initially expected.  God needed to press the reset button on the creation project, and the Noah story is deliberately crafted to make this apparent. 

In the initial creation story, the preexisting water of life is all that there is.  Then, God presses upward and downward on the water, creating a dome or firmament above and another one below.  The one above creates space for the sky, holding back the (heavenly) waters.  The one below creates space for the land, holding back the waters of the seas and underground aquifers.  So, when God decides to press reset on create in chapter six, we read a great reversal of the movement recorded at creation.  Windows in the domes open, allowing the waters of creation to rush back in, a rushing that is a washing, a cleaning, a remaking, a resetting of creation so that God might start again. 

Any effort to read more into the story seems a disservice to the story’s elegant re-creative reversal.  The story does what is means to do:  In both grand and subtle ways, telling the persisting narrative of the faith that we all need the chance to hit reset.  The story’s simplicity is its profundity.  The story reminds us to take an account, to be willing to start over, and to know that in such a rebooting we are in very good, holy company. 

When needed, may we each find the wisdom and the courage to start again all the while willing to keep playing.

Have a great week and see you along the way.

“A New Start” by Bernard Shaw

I have wiped the slate clean, 
No more reminders from the past.
Memories of what I have been, 
Have vanished at long last.
I look forward to my future new, 
Where all is territory strange.
Soon I will be among the few, 
That plans their life at long range.
I see my life laid out at my feet, 
New friends shall rally at my call.
They will be the first I will greet, 
At this my welcoming ball.
Soon all memories will depart, 
Of a past left well behind.
I will get off to a new start, 
With the best of mankind. 


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