A prayer from a fish.
I spent a bit of time yesterday reading theories about whether it’s practically possible to live inside a live fish or whale. There are, predictably, supporters of the natural theory who argue it could actually happen, and doubters who say nothing short of a magical supernatural miracle could make it happen.
Jonah, praying to God from the belly of the fish is definitely in the latter camp.
He’s obviously a flawed character, he ran from God. And he knew better, because his prayer shows knowledge and a deep love of God. It takes you through the drama of the water around him, seaweed tangling his head. As the tempest gave way to nothingness, as he sank to the “roots of the mountains” he went on a spiritual journey, from feeling (ironically) abandoned and cut off from God, eventually to the clarity of realising God was the only thing of any value, how worthless idols are. In the last moments of conscieseness he remembered and praised God as the only source of salvation.
Maybe in those moments when everything is stripped away, those moments of complete loss of control, we need to think “oh, I’m in a fish”.
And he is vomited up onto dry land.
I’ve sketched out a song lyric about it:
(can’t) run away
(can’t) sail away
(can’t) row away
So throw away, throw away, throw away…
Thrown into god’s chaos,
It swept all over me,
Then silence and abandonment
And sinking in the sea,
tangled in the weed and down,
Down at the mountains bottom
I left God, then he left me,
Panicked and forgotten,
I s’pose it had to come to this, praying from a fish,
Thought I could run from it, now I’m hoping I’ll be vomit,
Spew me where you will my God
Or leave me with the krill my God
No pride left, fight left, idols too,
There’s nothing left, there’s only you
One final flickering clarity
The only hope I’ve got
As life ebbs to the cold
nothings left, only God,