We don’t even know her name. We only know that she was married to Noah—someone the New Testament refers to as “a herald of righteousness”—a witness and evangelist, by the way he lived. (See Hebrews 11:7 and II Peter 2:5)
The Bible states that she and Noah have three grown sons, each of them married, and Mrs. Noah is not yet a grandmother. Their oldest son is perhaps thirty-five.
So maybe Mrs. Noah is around fifty-seven. She’s just decided to stop coloring her hair, and to never wear uncomfortable shoes again. Suddenly, it seems, she’s cooking for two, and doesn’t have as much cleaning and laundry to do. She has a lot more free time on her hands.
But times are bleak. The world has become steadily more corrupt, and humanity is on a fast, downhill track of violence and injustice. As a woman of faith, she can’t just fill her free time with shopping and working out. Mrs. Noah prays for her world and for her nation. She prays for her extended family, and for her neighbors. She tries to persuade people to change their ways, before it’s too late. Maybe she’s already lost many, many friends to evil and idolatry. Maybe they all think she’s judging them.
It’s possible that, for some time, Mrs. Noah has cried out to God, “I want out!” She may wonder, “What will become of my children and grandchildren?” Perhaps she realizes that being swallowed by a flood would be better than being swallowed by sin, evil, and violence.
Then one day, in a place where it never rains, her husband decides to build a sea-going vessel. Imagine the questions. Imagine the ridicule.
And this is where Mrs. Noah’s strength and influence as a mother shows up. She and Noah are able to persuade their sons and daughters-in-law to board the Ark and escape the coming flood. Through the years, Noah and Mrs. Noah have been able to influence their sons in the midst of a corrupt culture. And that influence has extended through their sons to their daughters-in-law. Their influence has multiplied!
As a symbolic story, the message is, “Picture this. This is how seriously God takes violence.”
But as a human story, the story Mrs. Noah lived with her family, it becomes, “What do you do when you know you have no control, you have no answers, and neither does the person next to you? You can’t even look out the window!
How do you negotiate relationships with your adult kids for an indeterminate time in a confined space? How do you share the work load of caring for the needs of every imaginable creature—food, cleanliness, safety, live births? How long will this last, and will we really be okay?”
The real parenting lesson is the lesson of surrender and trust. The real parenting lesson is living the life of faith as an example to your children, no matter how old they are, and no matter how uncertain things may seem.
(Deb Richards, Faith Formation Director, St. Mary of Nazareth Parish)