Repainting my 26 year old Noah’s Ark mural for the Berkeley Jewish Community Center seemed a timely event to me. Symbolically we have come full circle. That is to say, the animals and all of life once again find themselves at the brink of extinction. Weather patterns, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods from global warming are taking-out entire towns and even major cities. If fish and animals are being counted out of existence on a daily basis, (although I am not trying to be an alarmist), and if the man-altered environment is killing off our animals, probably we are not all that far behind them. As the story goes, God told Noah to build an ark, and put two of every animal in it, and wait.
What does the ark that Noah built represent to us today? Symbolically, it, once again, means our salvation. It points the way toward the only path we can take to save ourselves from the consequences of our actions, because, as my good friend Charles E. once said, “We’ve made every wrong choice we could make.”
Simply put, the Ark represents our hearts, and the animals within it symbolize allowing all of creation back into our hearts. We have come to view compassion as a spiritual matter, and spiritual matters as something we may like to read about after we retire. The vision of an Ark becomes more relevant as I listen to extraordinarily heavy rainfall jack-hammer the purple blossoms of the princess tree outside my Berkeley window.
I began repainting this mural as a way of bringing the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark back into consciousness. As I repainted the mural, this time with paint that I was promised would last five-hundred years rather than twenty-six years, as technology has changed, people who taught the children at the Berkeley Jewish Community Center on Walnut and Rose Streets, began to tell me how much the mural meant to them. The more the mural came back to life, the more the energy of its original creation began to awaken. Friends dropped by to see its progress. People working out in the auditorium gymnasium who had known me, came out and re-established our connection. Even the children would occasionally stop driving their yellow, cloth school bus, and count to two, carefully making sure that there were, indeed, two of every animal on the ark.
The weather is changing. It is time to make an ark of our hearts. It is time to open our hearts to every creature on earth. Compassion has always been a matter of survival, but now we have come to realize it. Only an opened heart can save us, not money, not power, not rage, not any form of closed fist, whether clenching cold, hard cash or anger at having our world wrecked by greed, will save us. Only opening our arms to everything alive as an equal will save us. It is time to re-build a great Ark, our opened hearts, and fill it with absolutely everything and everyone who comes before us in a given day and all night long.
Please enjoy the images of Noah’s Ark below:
Noah’s Ark Mural and article by
Ross G. Drago
Paint Rag Magazine
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