2014 © Anne Rose
Have you ever prayed for a whale to roll over? I have—on a whale watch off the shores of Cape Cod.
There were no guarantees on this Jonah-esque voyage that we would even come near a whale in all that ocean. Yet, as we approached the open sea my heart leapt just thinking about the possibilities. Look for the spouting mist, or birds hovering about looking for fish, or look for the luminescence of the whale’s undersides we were told.
Relentlessly, the steel-hulled vessel plowed the deep, leaving miles of white foam in its wake. But no sightings—just waves glistening in the blinding sun. Until a distant geyser appeared. And then, a long black form slipped above the waves. This sighting of a minke whale stirred me to the point that, like Peter at the Transfiguration, I had to say something! “God, let these whales give you glory. And let me see it.” Somehow I knew I would.
But seeing was not that easy since 220 passengers were packed into this boat like tuna after a good haul. And now, minke, finback and humpback whales were appearing out of the blue. I had to get a better look. So squeezing through the huddled mass of amateur photographers, I made my way onto the pulpit of the boat to catch a glimpse of two humpbacks’ enormous ruffled-edged tail fins waving as they dove.
After I had seen enough to satisfy my curiosity, I stepped down to allow others to get a better look. Almost immediately, the tour guide excitedly announced that the humpbacks had resurfaced, demonstrating breaching and fin slapping behavior off the starboard side (no good deed goes unpunished). Suddenly, due to the stampede of passengers, the boat listed decidedly to one side. This gave me the jitters. But more importantly, I couldn’t see! As I stretched on my tip toes I reminded God (just in case He had forgotten), “I can’t see them. Let me see them give You glory.”
But all was not lost. I had an idea! Port side was as empty as an abandoned parking lot. “God,” I prayed, “bring them over to this side.” Again, I had a sense of anticipation, so I moved slowly toward the side rail and waited like a lone rider waiting for the bus.
Not for long, though. Suddenly, the two humpbacks broke water right in front of me and an avalanche of spectators shifted port side to watch. Of course, this tipped the boat the other way. But I soon forgot my uneasiness. The two fifty-footers began to roll over like huge puppy dogs, sunning their big black bellies in the bright afternoon sun. They kept on rolling, too, sometimes onto their sides so they could stretch fifteen-foot fins heavenward and then slam them repeatedly against rolling mounds of ocean. All of this as if on cue: up together, down together. Hey, was this the Fin Follies? Over again, belly up, both fins up and down, white wings flapping like sea gulls, then onto their sides, seemingly applauding the God who made them.
Again, I heard the guide, “We don’t really know why whales do these behaviors.”
The whales continued slamming and slapping for quite a while, their pounding seeming purposeful, almost ruthless, full of power and relentless energy.
“Boy, this is unusual to see this kind of behavior go on for so long,” the guide said. Other veteran watchers agreed. It was nothing like anything they had seen before.
For those of you who are watching this video in your mind: What do you think? Is it too much to imagine that the Creator of the heavens and the earth would answer a prayer like mine?
Listen to what the prophet Daniel has to say about it. “Bless the Lord, seas and rivers, sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever. Bless the Lord, you whales and all creatures that move in the waters, sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.” Dn 3: 56, 57
Somewhere out there, a whale is doing this very thing.