Why We Don’t Have A Raven of Peace
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. – Genesis 8:6-7 (NRSV)
Wait. A raven?!
Betcha never noticed the raven before, but it’s true: before Noah sent out that famous dove, he sent out a raven. If you’d never noticed, perhaps it’s because the raven doesn’t seem much interested in being noticed. It’s more of a loner. When the dove heads out and doesn’t find what it’s looking for, it comes back to the boat for rest and shelter, more than once. The raven, however, heads out and stays out, flying around until the waters recede enough for it to find whatever it needs. See ya later, suckers.
Maybe some aspire to the raven’s aloof, up-by-the-bootfeathers independence. I think most of us know that we’re actually more like the dove, who needs the ark. We know that total independence is a myth. Unless you can pave your own roads, build your own car, weave your own clothes, blacksmith your own tools from ore you’ve mined yourself, grow all your own food—not to mention generate your own oxygen to breath—then you depend on other living beings for the vast majority of your needs. You need an ark to return to from time to time, a community to connect with, a little reliable infrastructure somebody else created. Maybe we remember the dove and not the raven because we know, deep down, that no matter how hard you work, or flap, you’re never going to be able to save yourself.
Fly away all by yourself if you want to, raven. Me, I need the rest of the crew to make it.
Grant me freedom, God, but grant me interdependence, too. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.