Seeing Ellery

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)

Love Mischief for the World

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.

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Photo of two goldfish by Erin Khoo. Used with permission.
Photo of goldfish by maxxum. Used with permission.
Quote by Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Photo of Elizabeth McKitrick and Elya Bergen at Second Nature Home Boutique by Maryam Khezrzadeh. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows:
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2018.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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7 Responses to Seeing Ellery

  1. Dave Small says:

    This is a fantastic post with great application of the Annie Dillard excerpt. Her books are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks, Dave. Just this month a friend brought this excerpt to a group I attend for our reflection time. I love God’s timing.


  3. gcoatesptgmailcom says:

    What you’re really good at is noticing people, the hurting, needy, broken ones who others ‘ pass by on the other side’. You reach out with love and care and a pair of dry socks. Gillian

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks, Gillian. 🙂


  5. mkhezr says:

    Hello Esther 🙂 Thanks for sharing the words. You write beautifully. All the best to you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks, Maryam. I loved your interview with Elizabeth. She has a beautiful heart and so do you.


  7. Pingback: God Sees Me | An Everyday Pilgrim

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