Prayer for the Day - Tuesday 19th September with Pádraig ÓTuama
For some people, today, is international Speak Like a Pirate day.
A few years ago, I led a pilgrimage from the Corrymeela Community, on the north coast of Ireland, to the Iona Community, on the Scottish island of Iona.
We took a 14-seater boat across that complicated water, but that morning, the water was like silk; smooth and easy. We sailed past Rathlin island, and then up the strait between Islay and Jura, stopping in Port Askaigh for a cup of tea and a scone, then on to Iona.
The whole journey took just over four hours.
For the first hour, a friend of mine spoke in a pirate voice. Avast! she said, when she saw the paps of Jura in the distance, Aye! she said when I asked her if she was feeling okay.
Speak like a Pirate Day started as a bit of harmless fun. And It’s easy to make light of piracy, thinking of Long John Silver, his parrot and patch. But it’s no light literary matter, as anyone on the Somali coast will tell you. Piracy there has an annual cost of over £100 million pounds.
It’s complicated, too. For decades in Ireland hundreds of Pirate Radio stations operated. What was considered wrong by some was considered common ownership by others.
So Pirate is a word that evokes fear, imagination, trial, attempt and argument. It’s not a balanced word, it’s a loaded word, full of fear for many, and freedom for others.
God of language
We use words lightly
sometimes making jokes
out of things that, rightly,
Open us up
to the layers of language,
so that one person’s freedom
doesn’t imprison another,
and one person’s fear
doesn’t petrify another.