A sailor’s letter home, part two

Jonah and I talked a bit. Then the captain’s voice called me back to work. Jonah asked if there was a better place to ride. I pointed to a pile of extra sails under the deck. He thanked me and laid down.

We were half a day and more from shore when the weather started to change. I shouldn’t say started. The wind exploded from behind us. I’ve never seen such a wind. And the storm came so suddenly that everyone grabbed desperately for the oars. The steersman turned us into the wind. All of us were shouting to gods, some names we knew, some we’d heard of in the ports we visited. We tossed anything heavy overboard, just to stay afloat.

Looking for anything more to toss, the captain stumbled over Jonah, sound asleep on the sails. “Wake up!” he said. “How can you sleep? Pray!”

We all made our mark on one of the broken pieces of pottery and tossed them in a basket. The captain drew out a piece. It was Jonah’s.

Everyone started shouting at him, over the screams of the wind. “What are you doing here?” “Who are you?” “Who have you killed that the gods are pursuing you?”

He looked at me and then looked away. “I’m a Hebrew, and I serve the God who made the winds and waves.”

There was panic in the faces of the younger sailors. “What can we do? Can you ask your god?”

Jonah looked calmer than he had since I first saw him on the dock. “Throw me in the water,” he said. “That will calm the waves. This is my fault.”

No one wanted to do it. We just started to row harder. Who wants to be the one who throws one of God’s people in the storm God made?


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  1. Pingback: A sailor’s letter home, part three | 300 words a day

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