I begin this sermon with excerpts (including a few minor edits) from the first chapter of a novel entitled Galore. The novel is written by Michael Crummy, who is a is Newfoundlander, and this particular novel is set in a fictional Newfoundland town, a coastal town, called Paradise Deep. Galore won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for best book and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Aware for fiction a few years ago. So as we begin, some excerpts from the opening chapter of Galore.
Most of the shore’s meager population – the Irish and West Country English and the bushborns of uncertain provenance – were camped on the grey sand, waiting to butcher a whale that had beached itself in the shallows on the feast day of St. Mark. This during a time of scarcity when the ocean was barren and gardens when to rot in the relentless rain and each winter threatened to bury them all. They weren’t whalers and no one knew how to go about killing the Leviathan, but there was something in the humpback’s unexpected offering that prevented the starving men from hacking away while the fish still breathed. As if that would be a desecration of the gift.
They’d scaled the whale’s back to drive a stake with a maul, hoping to strike some vital organ, and managed to set it bleeding steadily. They saw nothing for it then but to wait for God to do His work… The wind was razor sharp and Mary Tryphena lost all feeling in her hands and feet and her little arse went dunch on the sand while the whale expired in imperceptible increments. Jabez Trim waded out at intervals to prod at the fat saucer of an eye and report back on God’s progress. Continue reading