Speaking In Tongues . . .

A hard fast doctrine of the most holy Apostolic Pentecostal Church states quite simply that in order to be saved you must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Speaking in tongues is the evidence that proves you have received the Holy Ghost. 

In all reality, although everyone else was doing it, I just couldn’t wrap my head around speaking in tongues. The question, “Why do I need a strange language that I can’t even understand in the first place?”  When I want to talk to God I need to know what I’m saying . . . right? I mean what if I slipped up and called God an asshole or something? Holy shit! 

I heard many people try to reason that one out, heard the word “faith” a lot, heard more dodging and spinning than during a Biden press conference, but nothing equated . . . ever. 

Did I ever speak in tongues? Sure, but only when I faked it because someone was listening and I wanted them to know how holy I was. 

There was one time though when I believe I spoke in tongues . . . so. I’m gonna give a true and honest witness to that occasion in the following story. 

***

It was a typical Fall morning in Whittier, Alaska. The sun was out, but it was cold and windy. Bear Lewis, our boat’s captain, decided to make a run out to Poe Bay and check the pots we had lain a few days earlier. 

Now, in all honesty, I don’t know why my friend George ever hired Bear to captain his boat in the first place. He was too dumb to understand a chart and he got disoriented as soon as he lost sight of Whittier. 

I was George’s man on the scene so to speak and it was my job to be a ‘go between’ between him and Bear while George was in Anchorage working. The only problem was that Bear, being a mean dude, wasn’t about to listen to me concerning anything at all when it came to running the boat. In essence, I was just along for the ride.

This was fine to me because I knew absolutely nothing about crabbing anyways. I’d been a crew member during the salmon season on other boats, but this was my first time out in the coldness of crab season. 

George’s boat was heavy and very hard to control in rough seas. And in Alaska, even when the sea was smooth, you always knew ‘rough’ was just around the corner. 

We loaded up at the transient dock in Whittier and cast off about noon. The following sea pushed us easily along and we arrived at our fishing spot a few hours later. All was well with the world as we proceeded to set our pots in perfect weather. Come evening, we found a quiet cove on the lee side of a Poe bay island and anchored down for the night.

In the morning we planned to saddle up and head back to Whittier. After coffee and a quick breakfast, we headed out of the cove into a calm and beautiful morning.

As we cruised north to where Poe bay emptied into the open waters of Prince William Sound, I saw white caps in the distance. That meant waves, and one thing Squeaky did not like was waves. Regardless, Bear thought we could make it back ok,  so after another 1/2 hour or so we exited the peaceful bay and committed ourselves to the rough water of the Sound. 

The agitated water was sparkling green. The white waves were at least ten feet high and absolutely stunning. But when driving a top-heavy tug like Squeaky straight into them, their full-frontal assault was intimidating as hell.

Bear was scared shitless, I could tell by the way he was white-knuckling the steering wheel. Yelling for me to get him his survival suit didn’t give me much confidence either. HIS survival suit,  I didn’t have one. All I had was the buoy hanging behind the door to the wheelhouse. 

“IT WOULD HELP IF YOU’D SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!” I hollered back at him. 

With that, he gunned the engine even more. He seemed to think that head butting a strong wave with an old wooden boat was a GOOD thing to do. He was in a panic and trying to get back to the harbor where he’d be safe. 

I was hanging on to the stern locker for dear life while the boat, with each smash of a wave, was trying to decide whether to pitchpole or not. So far we hadn’t quite made the grade and broken the balance point. I was certain though, that with the force of the waves against Bear’s speed, it was only a matter of time before we went over backward. If that happened I was a dead duck. I knew as soon as I hit the water my muscles would begin to freeze up. Alaska is not kind to dumbasses who think they can overpower her warnings and swim to safety. 

It was about this time that I started to laugh . . . and to scream into the wind . . . and to speak in tongues. 

I was so excited and so scared that I’d forgotten how to talk. I waited until the boat settled in the trough and ran into the wheelhouse to grab the phone and call “mayday” to anybody in the area who could rescue us. I was certain we were going down. 

As I picked up the phone a wave crashed into the wheelhouse, broke through the windows, and filled my Helly Hanson rain gear. It was freezing cold. The phone got drowned, so I put it back on its hook and started to stuff sleeping bags, Bears survival suit, towels, and anything else I could find into the gaping hole where the window used to be.

Not only did the wave drown me and my phone, it also dropped into the engine compartment and killed it. That engine was the only thing on the whole boat worth a damn. I took the wheel while Bear jumped into the hold to get it going again. (he was actually a pretty good mechanic) 

Giving me the wheel was something he would never do before, but by now the big guy was more puppy dog than bear. The first thing that I did was slow down. That helped. Then I began to quarter the waves instead of hitting them dead on at full speed ahead. That worked. Old “Squeaky” settled down and got us back to Whittier in one piece. 

The last I saw of Bear Lewis he was heading to the harbor bar. (probably to tell all who would listen, his bullshit version of the battle between him and the sea.) I headed back to Anchorage forever. No more fishing. No more Bear. No more Whittier. 

Anyways, I guess I can now say I actually spoke in tongues. But in all reality, I believe tongue talking is not much different than any of the other proofs we attempt in order to say we visually talk to God. . . . bullshit in, bullshit out.    

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