Meeting the Monstrous Beast
“The monstropolous beast had left his bed. The two hundred miles an hour wind had loosed his chains. He seized hold of his dikes and ran forward until he met the quarters; uprooted them like grass and rushed on after his supposed-to-be-conquerors, rolling the dikes, rolling the houses, rolling the people in the houses along with other timbers. The sea was walking the earth with a heavy heel.”
— Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
There they are, by the hundreds, by the thousands, wading in chest-high water, holding backpacks and babies and plastic bags aloft. Rescues in bass boats and small drenched dogs and soaked teenagers piggy-backing grandmothers down what is usually a street, the current strong enough to create white-water ripples past their thighs.
What are we watching, when we see this? What makes this make sense?
There will be explanations offered, and they will be familiar. Greenhouse gases throttling the winds and waves whose patterns we had begun to be able to predict. Governments that had abandoned their people, politicians and those who voted for them taking the high ground and leaving the rest to drown. Racism and classism and ableism and ageism and sexism washing any away who aren’t deemed worthy of rescue.
What are we watching? What earns the unblinking fierce of our gaze? On what truths are our eyes fixed, focused? Whose eyes do we meet, as equals, as partners, help-mates and friends?
There is no reprieve yet, for Houston. The rain still comes. The levees do not hold. The thousand years is up and this is the one the likes of which no one living has seen.
There. There it is. There it is, again. Where you train your attention, there you will find your place in this story-in-the-making, in creation-on-the-move. Pray, if you pray. Send love and money, too. Ask questions in your own community, questions on which your own fate may not rest, but which surely pertain to others. And for goodness’ sake, vote next year for science and democracy and civil rights.
We will be rolled and covered, but we will rise and carry others with us. Watch for the opportunities to rise and carry. Watch for the holy moments where some people see God.
Holy, Mighty, Fierce, and Fearless One, we don’t need a sign. We see You. We’re watching. Let us be what this terrible time calls for. Let us be the ones who make love real in the world. Don’t worry about parting the seas; we’ll wade out to meet you.