HEARERS OF THE WORD: Eating fish by the Sea of Galilee

By early afternoon the wind had begun to pick up over the Sea of Galilee, and across the wide expanse of water, whitecaps, like bothersome arguments, swelled and crashed upon the flinty shores.
In the distance, dark clouds smothered a horizon that moments before had shone bright and clean as a virgin’s smile.
They menaced the peaks of the Great Rift Valley, the yawning gash torn by the calloused hand of the Hebrew god, he that, at mercurial Elijah’s prompting, smote the false prophets in the valley to the East.
The old hens tied their scarves round their permed hair and browbeat the help.
“You should throw that thing in the trash rather than putting it on a plate,” said one of particular haughtiness. She pushed away the plate and lifted her nostrils to the air.
The server paused, sure he’d misunderstood her.
I’d ordered my fish in the style of the locals, with the head still on, and as I forked in flaky mouthfuls, staring at the dead eyes, I couldn’t help but feel nauseous at the behavior of my companions.
“None of that seasoning on mine,” brayed one. “Don’t you have any iced tea?”
A goodly swallow of purple vintage crushed by the brothers up Mt. Carmel assuaged my embarrassment.
There I sit, in a picture in a photo album, with my hair long and dyed red for a play. I’m wearing a blue velvet sweater with my shirt collars pouring over, and I’m smiling like some Parisian fop, surrounded by grumpy, old ninnies.
Who could tell, by looking, that Jesus once walked across the same turbulent water that flapped in the background?
So goes the story, they woke him from sleep, all perturbed. Peter, the impetuous one, sank like a rock.
Our lunch should have been lovely, but it was infected with the same virulent dissatisfaction that disturbs local Sundays.
I picked up the half-eaten carcass of my lunch, holding it in both hands and biting it in the middle, like “crowd member 3” in “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Fishing boats rose on the swell, but they thinned after the heavens decided their course.
My father and I ordered dessert, and the waiters smiled on us as the old ninnies pecked and tramped about, clucking about salt and wind and gratuities.
I gobbled a forkful of olive relish – they serve olives with everything in Israel – and told my father I hoped it would rain like in the Book of Genesis.
He wasn’t convinced that we’d be among the saved.
Someone – not one of our group – tapped me on the shoulder, and asked me, in French, if I spoke French.
“Non. Je ne parle pas du francais,” I said, and shrugged, exhausting my vocabulary. I wondered if I looked French, and what it might mean to look French.
I toasted my father, finished my cake, and ambled back toward the bus, ready for the next stop on my tour of the Holy Land.

Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.

Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

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