I’ve said before that people in remote Aboriginal communities combine wit, wisdom and compassion. Here’s a story about remote community that I love for the wit. I’m indebted to Alan Scott for it.
“That old man Patrick is a real funny fella,” the young Aboriginal man laughed. “He tells a story from when he was a young man on the Reserve. The mission people would always take a Sunday church service and always tried to get my people involved in each service. Early each week, a missionary would come, ask an old person to ‘read the scripture’ and help them get ready. Many older people couldn’t read or write, so missionaries would use big picture books, like we use today in pre-school and year one. Each book had several bible stories-like Jonah and the Whale. This time, they asked old Wylie to ‘read the scripture’ of The Good Samaritan.
“On the Sunday Wylie is to present the scripture reading, it’s the middle of summer, forty-five degrees, humid and no breeze. The service was under the old, big bough shed on the Reserve with a big mob of people, maybe two hundred. When it’s time for the ‘scripture reading’, the Reverend calls Wylie. So Wylie gets up and starts talking.
“He points at the first picture, which is an old blind man sitting by the road side begging. The Good Samaritan is kneeling next to him. So Wylie explains to the assembled mob that this is the Good Samaritan. who sees a sick, blind man begging by the roadside. The Samaritan takes money from his pocket and gives it to the sick, blind man.
“Wylie looks at the mob and states, ‘Dat Good Samatan, ‘im bin real good pella’.”
“He waits for them all to nod, which they dutifully do. Then he turns and points at the second picture, this time a man bleeding by the roadside. He tells them about the Good Samaritan finding the man bleeding, binds the wounds using his own clothing and takes the man to town to be cared for.
“He look at the mob and pronounces again, ‘Im bin real good one, that Samatan pella, ay?’”
“He stares at the assembly, waiting for the nod. As he does, the first stirring of a breeze occurs. It’s just enough to turn the page in the picture book. So instead of the Good Samaritan, it’s now the story of Jonah and the Whale.
When Wylie’s satisfied he’s got enough nods from the mob he turns back to the book and sees a picture of a large white whale.
“‘Ay,’ he says, pointing at the picture, ‘where dis big pella puckin’ pish bin come prom, boy?’”