The Supporting Actor (Sunday Thoughts #9)

GENESIS 6:17,18, 9:12,13


17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.


12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”


 The rainbow’s symbolization of fruition and success existed long before Lucky Charms. Even if you aren’t particularly religious, the site of a rainbow somehow feels magical. It’s like a shooting star or a glimpse into another world. It promises somewhere “over the rainbow” that operates in technicolor and a life beyond normal limits.

Everybody knows the story of Noah–how he led a blameless life, one lone flower among weeds, and because of this was saved from the waters that wrecked and ravaged the land. He rode on the boat he built while the earth was washed clean and a new start was paved out of mud and muck. And ever after a rainbow kept watch with its promise of remembrance and forgiveness.

But nobody talks about Noah’s wife. She does not even earn a naming in this tale. She braved the waters too and shoveled excrement and fought seasickness and waited those forty days and forty nights and then some. Sandwiched between conjunctions and sons and daughters-in-law, she bears witness to it all.

I played tennis in high school. Singles. I am not good with team sports. Doubles was a stretch. I liked to run the show. Teaching high school English did nothing to assuage this. Planning every minute of your day and maintaining control of the classroom was encouraged and I thrived within its environment, like a hothouse rose in, well, a hot house. It’s not something I am proud of and it’s something my husband and my children have done wonders in breaking down brick by brick. When Charlie was first born, I realized I was going to have to take a step back as caller-of-the-shots. In order to help him be successful, I would have to listen to the doctors and specialists and his own voice, silenced by a trach but still very much there. There was a long period of time when I studied myself from the outside and felt sorry for that poor woman who had no control over her life. I was a puppet who couldn’t reach its own strings.

It’s hard for me to read this passage and not feel sorry for Mrs. Noah. She seems neglected, like the beloved dog who gets forgotten when the babies arrive. Until I remember that she gets the blessing too. She feels the sun, steps a wobbly foot onto soggy land, spies the rainbow and receives the same promise. She will not be forgotten, whether or not her name appears in the credits.

Sometimes it is good to be a supporting actor. It means I get to support the ones I love. It’s also what is required of me as a Christian—to follow God’s lead. No matter my role, he gives the same blessing to us all. I do not need to be Noah to see the rainbow. Charlie reminds me of this every day. The twins remind me of this every day. My husband reminds me of this every day. I am practicing receiving it as a gift. To be honest, I’ll still always prefer singles, but I think I’m becoming a better team player.