Step Outside

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven … He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark. -Genesis 8: 6& 10

Dear members and friends,

The story of Noah and the flood is often seen as a very negative story because God seems to be willing to destroy everything on earth. Yet, Emanuel Swedenborg explains it as a story of rebirth for humans into a different stage of being. In other words, the story of the flood is not about God destroying everything on earth, but about God guiding and encouraging humans to proceed into a new stage of being in which they can reunite with God.

By the time the story takes place, humans’ state of innocence has passed, but this did not mean that they were lost forever. Instead, the Creator God found a way to bring them back and to be reunited. Being united with God is critically important to humans because ultimately, that is the very purpose of their existence. In other words, the further a person strays from God, the less happiness and fulfillment that person will feel within their heart.

At first, the ark works as a protection from the flood of falsity. However, after the rain stops, the symbolism of the ark changes into limitation and imprisonment. In other words, though we may build a figurative ark to protect ourselves from the difficulties of the world outside, if we remain in that ark forever, we will be imprisoned within an illusion of a self-created reality. This confusion and self-justification of staying within the ark is symbolized by the raven that Noah sent out first. According to Swedenborg, a raven symbolizes falsity due to its color (black). Falsity here is not something that is obviously untrue, but something that justifies and upholds a self-centered view of the world. So, the message of God in this story is quite vivid: a truly fulfilling life is awaiting us outside the ark if only we are willing to overcome the falsity that has been convincing us to stay within. We must accept the truth – the dove – that is encouraging us to step outside, even if it’s frightening or difficult. However, don’t be disappointed if you cannot make it out right away. As Noah sent out the dove three times, it will take a proper amount of time for us to be ready to face our challenges in a meaningful way. Even if it takes many unsuccessful attempts, the important thing is to keep on trying!

Blessings, Rev. Lee