Reading the Word
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord form the stomach of the fish, and he said, “I called out of my distress to the Lord.
And He answered me.
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
Thou didst hear my voice.
For Thou hadst cast me into the deep.
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Thy breakers and billows passed over me.”
Reflecting on the Word
We become what we are called to be by praying. And we start out by praying from the belly of the fish.
The belly of the fish is a place of confinement, a tight, restricted place. The ship to Tarshish was headed for the western horizon—limitless expanses of sea with the lure of the mysterious and beckoning unknown through the straits of Gibraltar and beyond. The Gates of Hercules. Atlantis. Hesperides. Ultima Thule.
Religion always plays on these sublime aspirations, these erotic drives for completion and wholeness. Jonah, heady with this potent elixir and cruising confidently under full sails, the sea breeze and salt tang deepening the sensory anticipation of a thrilling life in the service of God, found himself instead in the belly of the fish . . . the unattractive opposite to everything Jonah had set out for.
Under the Unpredictable Plant
Responding to the Word
My prayers, God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought flows upon thought,
But the depth beneath is all thine own,
And there thou mov’st in paths to us unknown.
Out of the strange strife they peace is strangely wrought;
If the lion in us pray—thou answerest the lamb.