THE NAKEDNESS OF THE GREAT
“Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.’” (Gen 9: 20-25)
Noah did not know that wine would make him drunk, because he was the first to make and drink wine, and to experience its effects. Nor did Noah’s sons know why their father, the great Noah, who had rescued them in the ark because God found him alone to be “blameless in his generation” (Gen 6: 9), was now lying naked in a strange stupor in his tent. So, this is not a story about a habitually-drunk father and his long-suffering children. It’s a story about children with a great father, who now found himself in an embarrassing and unexpected predicament, in which they could be expected to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Let me be reminded today, on this Wednesday of Mid-Lent (τῆς μεσονηστίμου, средопостная), to let things go, if great people in my life, perhaps even my “fathers“ in the Church, seem to “disappoint“ me. Disappointment with others is a warning signal that I have wandered across the lines of the “God zone,“ in which I enjoy the gifts of His way of being, – of mercy, compassion, and gratitude, – while He alone is the omniscient Judge. “Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen.”