Psalm 51: Washed in a Whale’s Belly!

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

February 24, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51. The psalm is accompanied by readings so rich in sacred symbolism that just an isolated word or image, focused on and repeated, can be a source of deep prayer.


As we pray Psalm 51, we might think of Jonah. How like him we can be – ignoring God’s nudges until we are thrown into some whale’s belly of trouble! There – tossed, turned, shaken up, and thoroughly washed – we might come out with a new perspective on our lives, just a Jonah did. 🐳😊

Let’s still our spirits in any tumbling water we might find ourselves as we pray today. What is it that God might be nudging us to right now in our lives? What circumstance might we place in the waters to be thoroughly cleaned so that we may see it anew?


Poetry: Leviathan by Clare Pollard

1 Sometimes I feel like Jonah
fleeing Nineveh.
Who wants to hear what is evil?
Every day we make this earth less
alive, various or legal.
What is this diminishment
but sin against god
which is a program
to generate complexity?
I should go to Nineveh
and cry against wickedness
which halts love
which wants
the other’s different self
to stay itself.

2 They say if you’re fair
or moneyed
or live on a mountain
you won the lottery,
everyone else, apologies — 
storms aren’t going away
so play the game nicely.
Lots are cast, blame allotted,
men tossed to the ocean’s
torsion, seaweed’s cage,
foreclosing
depths and then the blue whale’s
curdled belly
digesting
everything we’ve done.

3 I visited a branch of Sea Life
in an ex-county hall.
Mops in corridors, half-empty
vending machines.
They took photos of us
pretending to look scared
in front of green screens.
Rays took tidbits
from stinking cups.
The sharks were
gilled glide,
ravenous for outside.
We were dumped onto dry land
by the Coca-Cola
London Eye.

4 I must warn Nineveh.
But who wants to hear me say
what is evil?
It is dominion.
It is the law
that makes goodness impossible,
fasting in sackcloth
the only option.
But God will not say must
only relent or sorrow
as the whale does
when her calf is taken — 
a harrowed sound
that does not bear
description.

Music: Wash Me Clean – Maggie Dawn

2 thoughts on “Psalm 51: Washed in a Whale’s Belly!

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