Preparing Through Parable: All Kinds of Fish

sunrisepond22115

 

winterfish

 

Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 
Matthew 13: 47-48

 

mudpondkoi

 

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. 
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
– It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
– if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels- until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! 
And I let the fish go. 

~Elizabeth Bishop  from “The Fish”
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sunrisepond1

 

All my life, I’ve taken care of a variety of fish in tanks.  As a child, I would watch, mesmerized, as our tropical fish glided around, happily exploring their little ten gallon world.  I willingly cleaned away the algae, rinsed the gravel and changed the filter. As a teenager, I boasted at least three different tanks aerating away in my bedroom, my own little aquacultural world.

During college and medical school, I chose to share my room with goldfish and bettas, thriving on their contentment within a clear glass bowl.  I didn’t think of them as emotional support animals, but there was a joy obvious in their albeit limited existence: they still thrived when I was away, not missing me, but were always thrilled when I fed them, and tolerated my messing with their home maintenance.

My current aquarium is over thirty years old and boasts over two dozen fish and plenty of furry algae and plants. Some of my watery friends have lived a decade or more and when they pass, I miss them.  Even the dozen koi and goldfish in our farm pond have expressive faces and individual personalities that I’ve gotten to know well as they come when I call.

I’m not a fisherman so can’t imagine sorting these finned friends good from bad as the parable suggests will happen in the kingdom of God.  I know the heart of compassion I feel for these animals I’m responsible for, as I know and have experienced the compassion of our Creator.

I would hope when the time comes that I end up in His net, that He’ll look at me, at my blemishes and wounds and the number of hooks in my mouth from the times I’ve been caught and escaped, and if He’s not yet ready to take me home, or deems me not yet ready to leave this world, He’ll throw me back to keep trying to get it right.

He has promised us that.

Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows.

May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand.  He prepares me with parable.

tanks

 

koigold

 

 

2 thoughts on “Preparing Through Parable: All Kinds of Fish

  1. Bishop’s piece is stunning — deep and memorable. As is your Comment, Emily. I must admit that I did not get Bishop’s full import until I had read your Comment. I had forgotten that particular parable of the Kingdom — and its affirmation of our loving God’s patience, compassion, and mercy always there for us. Thank you.

    A thought just ran through my mind: In the spirit of the recent Olympics, I had a brief mental picture of our loving Jesus, arms outstretched, waiting at the finish line of the Decathlon, encouraging, urging His children on to the finish line and final victory after a journey of trials and a few lapses, waiting to embrace them and welcome them to His Kingdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, the Koi…
    My father decided last summer it was time to leave the farm that was home for our family since 1901. I agreed, because there was just too much work for the two of us. We sold the farm and relocated.
    On the farm, I fed the birds year round, since 2000. Needless to say, I miss the birds. I will miss the perennials return to life this spring and now you reminded me that I will miss the Koi in our farm pond. The birds, the perennials, the fish all were a lot of work, but the blessings they brought into my life were worth the effort.
    However, my body said, “It is time to downsize and seek the blessings of life in other avenues.”
    I hope that as I try to find my new normal, I can regroup and rethink how God wants me to spend my time, while I still have time to spend here on earth.

    Like

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