Sir Arthur Grimble - The Prayer of the Fisherman
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Sir Arthur Grimble - A Pattern of Islands
The islanders stubborn resistance to the imposition of Christianity was directed not against the notion of a foreign deity, but against the church organisation.
The Christian God seemed very powerful to them. Had He not saved from the anger of their own spirits the desecrators of their village shrines? [the Christian missionaries]. They had need of the protection of such a Power, not His enmity, in their bitter loss. So Katutu, a pagan of about eighty, put it to me at Tarawa.
'And besides, God and Jesus do not belong only to the Protestants and Roman Catholics,' he said to me. 'They belong to pagans also. They are not surrounded by a fence up there in Heaven, and we do not have to run into a mission fence to find them here on earth. They are everywhere, like Auriaria and Tabuariki and Tituaabine. We can take them for our own friends if we want them'.
And some of them did precisely that, by the simple expedient of using the names of God and Jesus as names of power in their magic of kindness. I cannot think that there was anger in the courts of Heaven when the following prayer was heard there. It was used by Katutu when he was lost at sea in his fishing-canoe. Lifting a little sea water at arms length in cupped hands, he called:
This is the lifting of the draught of the sightless:
I am cross-eyed, I am blind! I know not North, I know not South,
I know not heaven or the underworld-o-o!
Lift thyself up my draught - t drink thee;
Let them tell me, let them direct me, for I am cross-eyed, I am blind.
O bu-u-u, ba-a-a, God and Jesus!
Only thou, God, art the land, thou the ocean.
The ill wind blows: destroy it, disperse it,
Return it to its place - the ocean-o-o!
'And when I had said it three times,' said Katutu, 'the ill wind dropped its wings, the sea fell, a fair wind blew, and I came safe home.'