The Dolphin of Gennesareth

William Loader

‘That was their story,’ Thomas remarked, as his eyes searched across the vast expanse of sea, like he was seeking some word of inspiration from its lines of waves. ‘And I have no doubt it was true,’ he added. ‘But it’s not my story.’

‘It is just as they say. They went out from shore in the boat and pretty soon got themselves into rough water – sea breeze, you know, except this time it was fierce. And in the midst of it all, when it was already dark, they saw him – like a ghost, but he came closer and closer and then got into the boat. They were flabbergasted. They couldn’t believe it. The next thing they knew the storm had stilled and they were just metres from the shore.

‘The other boats weren’t so lucky. You just can’t stick together in that kind of storm. Philip’s boat must have shot off somewhere to the other side. But it didn’t escape the storm’s fury. Majestic, he said. Invigorating! But no less life threatening. Then they saw him – on the water, like a ghost, getting closer and closer. They hauled him on board and he joined the fray. Up the mast he was like a shot, hauled down the sail which wouldn’t release, then dropped to deck exhausted. Minutes later he was up again. It was all hands to the deck! It took them hours. When they all got out of the boat, they looked like night. Everyone clambered out except him – he was done and had fallen asleep in the stern. They just left him there to rest.

‘Our boat also had it rough. It’s hard to talk about. Monstrous, it was. I’ve never seen such ferocity. You could hardly see yourself and as night drew in we thought we were gone. Vomit everywhere – never happened to me before. Then we saw him, like a ghost. At first just a faint glow, then closer, closer, and up he got into the boat. There wasn’t time to explain. He got the slop bucket and started trying to wash up the muck. He washed our feet. He even threw a bucketful right into my face – I must have looked a slobbering mess. Then it happened. A big one it was, a real big one; crashed right over us it did. I thought we were going to roll. I grabbed the side and hung on for all my might. Baptised we were, under the water, but it was just the immensity of the wave. Thank God, we were still right way up. I looked around. He’d gone. He’s gone, I thought. He’s gone. I never did see him again. When we got to shore we were distraught. The others rushed over to us; they were shouting; Peter and his crew were celebrating; we didn’t know what to think. Was it a dream?

‘And now when I sit here, I keep seeing him. Look, there, do you see? See the surface break? Look at that leap. See him rise! There he is again. He’s there alright. Down there. In the deep. Watch and see! He is the one, the dolphin of Gennesareth. Believe me!’