It is a day so hot that eggs could be fried on the roofs of our homes. The wind is howling, glass-sharp grains of sand penetrating our veils. The haggard man, his tender skin burnt raw, hunches under a makeshift shelter and a dead vine. Closer inspection reveals that he is very much alive, although apparently quite mad.
Who would guess that this pathetic creature is, in fact, a great adventurer? Why, just two months ago, he set foot in places that no man has been before nor is likely to ever go again and survive to tell the story. Actually, our hero didn’t exactly ‘set foot there’ either. It was more like he got sucked into it.
It all began with ‘The Call’. The Creator and Sustainer of All commanded our hero to come inland and preach. So what did this fearless adventurer do? He bolted to the nearest port, parted with a great deal of cash and slunk aboard a ship. Glancing behind him furtively, flattening himself against walls and sneaking through doors, Jonah apparently finally curled up in a ball in the bowels of the ship, exhausted.
Our hero woke to the urgent tones of the captain’s voice. “Get up man,” the experienced seaman ordered. “Call on your God. Unless the gods intervene, we’re doomed.”
Groggily, Jonah lurched his way to the deck. Something like a stone lodged in his stomach, and it was not due to the violent pitching of the vessel. Emerging into searing rain and the spray of the waves, Jonah was quickly pulled back by the seamen who were headed inside, their slickers saturated.
They gathered around the large wooden table. Each man was allocated a stick, then all the sticks were bundled together. The first mate looked to the ceiling, called on his gods, then drew one at random. It was Jonah’s.
Our hero moved to the door and made to open it. “I’m fleeing from the God of All That Exists. Throw me overboard and the sea should calm down.”
The sailors, to give them credit, argued long and hard. Finally, however, the instinct to survive kicked in and Jonah was kicked out. Our hero momentarily bobbed about like debris on the violent waves and then sunk out of sight beneath a calm, flat sea.
That’s where the next stage of the Great Adventure began.
Forces assaulted every part of his body. Jonah was sucked into a dark, noxious cavern. At this point, our desperate hero made a smart move. Sinking to his knees on the mushy surface, a strand of seaweed artistically draped around his head, the great adventurer looked beyond the malodorous walls and prayed and prayed and prayed.
Three days later, convulsions in the noxious tomb forced Jonah back into that tight tunnel then finally onto golden sand under a glorious sun. A large fish, rather green about the gills, lay on the beach. Jonah wriggled his aching body to the shade of a nearby rock.
Once he had regained his land-legs, our hero began the long journey inland. Days passed with one weary, obedient step after another. A fearsome sight was our hero, his skin and hair bleached white by the stomach acid of the fish.
Finally, Jonah arrived. He headed straight to our town square. Surrounded by crowds of colourful and beautifully ornamented men and women, Jonah raised his voice over the hubbub. “Forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” Between proclamations of doom, in answer to our curious questions, Jonah told us his story.
The city was revolutionized. Our citizens wore sackcloth, and apart from the most basic life needs, just sat in the dust and prayed to the God of All.
That’s when Jonah left the city, muttering, shuffling, shoulders hunched. “I knew it! Gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, One who relents from sending calamity … aaaaargh … would that I were dead!”
Our hero headed east, built a shelter and watched. Forty-one days have passed since Fish Man's arrival in Nineveh. Today, our people celebrate. The Great God of All has shown us mercy. Our city is once again filled with music, colour and joy.
Today, we have come to invite the Great Adventurer to join our celebrations.Yet we find him hunched over in the burning sun under a dead vine, muttering death wishes.
Yet what is this? The Great Hero appears to hear the voice of his God again.
It seems that our hero’s adventure is not over yet.
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