Conversations With a Fish

Is it ok to talk to a fish? I hope so because our conversation, though narrow in scope, has continued for several years.

It goes like this.

“I am here,” I say.

“I want food,” he often replies.

We don’t use words because, of course, the poor fellow is underwater. I say my bit by walking to the doorway, within a few feet of the aquarium. If he’s in the mood, he will swim over, stare at me through the glass, and wiggle.

Often, he will not wiggle, and sometimes he will not even approach the glass. Sometimes — especially in the morning — he spots me further away and immediately begins his spirited dance.

And always, when he wiggles, I feed him.

Ours is a language of symbols and gestures, as every language is. Established over thousands of repetitions, it is also a language of predictability and trust. And, of course, there’s always the chance we’re not communicating at all.

But I will miss this fish when he is gone. He helps me imagine what it might be like for God; to want connection with a creature, to want to be seen, to want to be asked.

I would feed my fish in any case. I would clean his tank and provide a comfortable environment, as I have done for dozens of fish before him. I would do for him a few of the things that God does for me, even if he never noticed me.

But he does notice me, and in some small way, we are friends.

My own prayers are like his, a searching and a shaking, a plea to something far beyond what I can understand. But often I find someone there, leaning against the doorway, waiting.

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“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

-Revelation 3:20

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