Palin is 2 years old. pretty impressive for a beta. Technically, she belongs to the girls but if ownership implies feeding and cleaning, I guess she belongs to me. I've heard from people who keep fish that betas are especially picky (read die easily) but Palin is anything but. We can't seem to kill this fish. And if you asked her, she would tell you that we try on a pretty regular basis.
Feedings take place on an ad hoc basis (read whenever I remember to). Bowl cleanings occur whenever 3/4 of the water has evaporated and the poor fish has been swimming in her own filth for a LONG TIME. gross? I know. cruel? I know. uncaring? probably. But maybe her greatest feats are that of fasting through our vacations. We meant to give the neighbors our house key on the week long trip to San Antonio. And that trip to Puerto Rico? we TOTALLY meant to drop her off at the Goetzman's. Weeks at a time with no food and somehow through all of that abuse and neglect, She just keeps swimming. (Insert Ellen Degenerese voice: Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming) Even Ghandi would eat one grain of rice. There have been times when we pull into the driveway, and somewhere in my selfish, cruel heart I'm thinking "I hope this is the day I clean the fishbowl for the last time". (Go ahead call the HSPCA on me for neglect. no really, call them and have them come take the fish)
Perhaps the saddest thing is that no one truly cares whether this fish lives or dies, swims in clean water or filth, has food or starves...except... except the fish. Palin is determined to live. I'm sure of it. I wonder if she knew about her owners' indifference... would that change? Granted, we care in a mild, it's our responsibility, we're stuck with this fish and the kids would cry if it died, kinda way. But really, truly cared about it? yeah right.
A poet friend of mine once wrote about a poor fish stuck isolated in his bowl. Uncared for, unloved. Fed only when remembered. Had barely enough to survive and no knowledge of what the next day will bring. I think many people can relate. Of course, our bowl is much bigger and like the fish we can choose to recognize whether there is something beyond the fishbowl or pretend that reality stops at the boundaries of our glass bowl. Either way, there are times when our bowl feels very much like Palin's and we question if there is a god, why doesn't he care about what happens to me.
We can even accept and know that we live in a fallen world where sin reigns and that we face both the consequences of sin in the world (disease, death, human cruelty) and our own sin (punishment, broken relationships, guilt). We can believe that Jesus died for our sins and we have new life in him, but still wonder if maybe all of those actions are just out of compulsion. "Well, I created this world so now I better take care of it, you better go down there Jesus. It's the right thing to do." Because as we know ourselves, how can God feel otherwise. Looking down on us, swimming in our own filth, how can He not just be tired of it. tired of us.
Simple, His perspective. He doesn't look down on the fishbowl, he became a poor fish and climbed inside our nasty bowl so that we could know him and he could know us. From inside the bowl, Jesus pleads our case, understands our plight, forgives our sins. Dealing with the loss of a loved one, so has Jesus. Facing a prognosis of certain death, so has Jesus. Friends and family turn their back on you, so has Jesus. Felt the crushing weight of sin and guilt, so has Jesus. on the cross, taking our sin, our failure and shame and separating it from us forever. Jesus is our hope here in the fishbowl, that God will not and cannot forget us, cares for us regardless of what the circumstances would argue. Christ's death on the cross, his selfless and perfect sacrifice, cannot ever be ignored or marginalized, therefore God does not, cannot look at us as an impassionate observer, but as a Father. We are not a forgotten child's pet, but the pearl of great price that God risked everything to secure for eternity.