Scott bends over the bowl – happy – unaware – and I see it. Dazzling orange flick and swish has turned to sad bloat and float.
The truth hurts but his hope floats just like this dead fish and he asks buoyant – expectant – ‘But Mom do fish come alive again?’
I give the gentle honest version but no amount of CPR is bringing back this dead pet from the Great Fishbowl in the Sky.
He won’t hear of flushing and opts for burial. I use the spaghetti spoon to scoop out the small bright corpse – wrap it careful in paper towel – think about how I so did not know I was signing up for this when there were two pink stripes on a pregnancy test five years ago – dig a hole near the jungle gym – hold a brief ceremony and frantically hope that Lola doesn’t exhume the piscatorial remains.
The afternoon wanes mellow and so does Scott’s distress. We still have, after all, three fish swimming strong. But disappointment nags hungry in my gut. I check my inbox because I’ve pinned some dreams on a promised response that just isn’t coming and my hope is threatening to go belly up like Scott’s ex-fish. I’m fighting to believe the best because I don’t want to assume the worst and I’m sure people just have bigger fish to fry so maybe it’s time just to flush this fish of wishful thinking?
And then I think about Jesus. Because he had a thing for fish. He drew his inner circle rough with the grit of men who caught fish for a living. Taught them how to fish for souls. Multiplied fish on a hillside. Paid tax from a fish’s mouth. Cooked fish on the beach for his friends.
But Jesus wasn’t into scooping out hope limp and lifeless. He was into flinging the nets wide. Hauling them in heavy. Unbroken.
And maybe you and I could be like those first disciples who didn’t know if the nets would come back full. They threw them out in faith and trusted God for the catch. Maybe we could offer what we have – fling the stitched up patched up sagging strings we have – and trust God for the catch? Because he works all things for good, even the disappointments we wrestle back into the boat. There’s always grace enough, and what spills from our lives if we trust and obey is all good, all glory.
The Saga of the Dead Fish is relayed to Dad over supper. There’s fleeting sadness but mostly the strange peace of it-is-what-it-is. With that in mind, I shut down my wistful glances at the internet and decide instead to tug back to the beach the nets teeming with the glistening minutes of today. I decide instead to marvel at today’s catch, because it’s all grace. Tomorrow, there will time enough again to fling wide the nets. And hope.
. . .