Following on from yesterday’s Edenic splendour, today’s advent offering shows us the stark outcome of the earth-covering deluge, depicted in the traditions of Genesis 6-9. Cole Thomas’s work, The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge (1829), present us with an earth that has taken a beating after the divinely-ordained flood. Gone are the flowers, the lush grass, the myriad of creatures that populated the earth. All that’s left are sharp, craggy, lifeless rocks and the drenched remnants of long-dead vegetation. The flood narrative relates the ‘uncreation’ of the earth and, eventually, its recreation. But the new earth is a sorry sight in Thomas’s painting – an eerie stillness testifies volubly to the fact that there is no life left. Even the ark, that microcosm of the created order allowed to survive, is nowhere yet in sight. We are reminded that the God of this tradition has been filled with such pain and regret at the mess of his creation that he takes the radical step of seeking to start anew. And yes, new life does follow the death-bringing deluge, but this image reminds us that such new life came at quite a cost.