God, help me see what you see, I pray as I walk.
I wonder if I’ll ever slow down enough to see more than a label: that’s a tree, a flower, a truck that needs a new muffler.
Annie Dillard saw what God saw when she bought a goldfish and named him Ellery.
This Ellery cost me twenty-five cents. He is a deep red-orange, darker than most goldfish. He steers short distances mainly with his slender, red lateral fins; they seem to provide impetus for going backward, up, or down. It took me a few days to discover his ventral fins; they are completely transparent and all but invisible—dream fins. He also has a short anal fin, and a tail that is deeply notched and perfectly transparent at the two tapered tips. He can extend his mouth, so that it looks like length of pipe; he can shift the angle of his eyes in his head so he can look before and behind himself, instead of simply out to his side. His belly, what there is of it, is white ventrally, and a patch of this white extends up his sides–the variegated Ellery. When he opens his gill slits, he shows a thin crescent of silver where the flap overlapped—as though all his brightness were sunburn.
For this creature, as I said, I paid twenty-five cents. I had never bought an animal before. It was very simple; I went to a store in Roanoke called “Wet Pets”; I handed the man a quarter, and he handed me a knotted plastic bag bouncing with water in which a green plant floated and the goldfish swam. This fish, two bits’ worth, has a coiled gut, a spine radiating fine bones, and a brain. Just before I sprinkle his food flakes into his bowl, I rap three times on the bowl’s edge; now he is conditioned, and swims to the surface when I rap. And, he has a heart.
I love how Annie Dillard’s care and observing of Ellery allowed her to see beyond his measurement of usefulness or value. She enjoyed his beauty and savoured the wonder of this creature that God created, gave life to, and loves.
Rushing from one activity to another forces me to measure, judge, and categorize. With so many things to do, I am often in triage mode, separating whatever comes to me like sheep from goats: useful not useful.
But on the heels of Earth Day, God is inviting me to stop . . . see . . . and fall in love with that tree, that flower–maybe even that truck with the noisy muffler. God knows when I do, I care for the earth and all that is in it the way Annie Dillard cared for Ellery.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
–Genesis 1:31 (NIV)
Second Nature Home Boutique is a social enterprise entirely focused on eco-friendly, organic products for the home. “A social enterprise is one whose social mission is just as important as their financial mission,” says Elizabeth McKitrick (left), founder of the store located in East Vancouver. “So it’s on equal footing; you have to make a profit in order to be in business, but the profits are re-invested back into the business for the benefit of all involved [the artisans who make the products, the local community, the environment and the owner].” Elizabeth was interviewed by Maryam Khezrzadeh on Medium.