the story room

Friday, May 27, 2005

I secretly long to be St. Francis

OK, not exactly. I'll be honest - I don't know very much about him. But I heard that he talked to animals and preached to the birds, and I'm thinking that if we lived at the same time, I'd be out there with him. I promise I'm not nuts, but I've been talking to animals a lot lately! I've been working hard on training our puppy, reasurring our cat when I took him to the vet today, greeting my fish when I feed him in the mornings, and saying hello to ducks whenever I see them around. It's a part of me I never outgrew, I think.

Anyway, I was flipping through a journal I kept last year for my Life of Prayer class, and came across this entry. I ejoyed writing it, and I think it's relevant here:

"As I'm sitting here at my desk, I'm looking at my red and blue Betta fish, Grandpa. I often (probably too often!) find myself staring at him and watching him swim and make faces at himself in the mirror that's behind his bowl when I should be working on my homework, undistracted. But he does distract me, and I'm captivated by him.

"Sometimes I wonder what Grandpa would be doing if he wasn't in my bowl on my desk, but was instead in the ocean somewhere, or wherever Bettas come from. Would he keep himself in a little pocket of water, or would he swim all over the place, happy for his space and freedom?

"It sounds silly, but I wonder if Grandpa is happy to be living in a bowl on my desk - even though I do feed him, care for his home, and give him attention. I know he's a little fish with a tiny fish brain, but I often wonder what he thinks about his life. Still, I have a feeling he's not discontent.

"I love to take care of Grandpa. Sometimes I wonder why that brings me so much joy. It's amazing to me that changing water in a bowl and dropping pellets of food into the water could affect me the way it does. And it's not like I'm a crazy animal-lover. It's true that I enjoy animals very much, but I'm well aware that Grandpa's "rights" are in some ways very different from my own. There's something that goes deeper than just this fish.

"I recognize that I have authority over Grandpa's life. Although I would hate it, I realize I have the power to squish Grandpa. He's so tiny; his life is fragile. But even though I have the power to destroy him, I'm compelled to care for him. There's something in me that longs to use the power I have to protect and nurture him.

"It makes sense. Through Adam and Eve, God comissioned me to have authority over the land and its creatures. I'd be silly (and out of my mind!) to think Grandpa and I could ever be equals. I take pleasure in my authority over him. God has comissioned me to care for this creature. I know I'm doing my job well when I see his beautiful body and clean water with all those little bubble nests.

"Why does all this excite me? I take pleasure in my authority over this little fish because God is taking care of him through me. I was created in the image of God, and I experience evidence of this when I'm privileged to rule. As God's image-bearer, I delight in being like Him. Sometimes I forget who I am, but in a little thing like taking care of Grandpa, I'm reminded again.

"I'm smiling now, realizing that Grandpa the Betta fish reminds me of who I am in Christ. And it reminds me that in the way I love and take care of Grandpa, God also loves and takes care of us - though so much better.

I'm marveled by all of this."


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