I take inspiration from the strangest places sometimes, but I never once thought I'd learn anything special from the fish. Never once.
Let me state upfront that I hate fish as pets. They're the most obnoxious pet in the world because there is no level of forgiveness with them. You don't water them right, you feed them too many little flakes of food, and BAM next then you know fishie dead. Looking at you with dead eyes that are still screaming "how hard is it to feed me LESS, really?"
Yet, for reasons that involve a 3 foot tall girl with sad hazel eyes that smiled when she saw those "fishies"...
A couple of months after she arrived, I found myself equipping us with a fish tank, some fish, and enough enough plants to start our own little fish orchard.
She enjoys them still, in her own little kid way of making sure that every newcomer into the house sees her fishies and randomly announcing to me that we have "'ive fishies" We've got more than five, but she doesn't care about numbers higher than that. It's a whole hand of fishies... that's a lot of fish.
This weekend I opened the lid to feed them, and instantly like the starving fish they are they all swim to the top and start panting at me for food. But I didn't even notice.
You see, there was one fish, one fish at the bottom of the tank laying on the rocks.
I'm not attached to these fish by any means, but... I hate the idea of any animal dying just because I didn't take care of it right or something.
My entire attention focused down on this one fish: is it dead? is it moving at all? I stared at it, my face all furrowed as I hoped it was just trying to scare me.
And I waited.
I stared at this immobile fish for at least a good minute when it suddenly snaked it's way across the rocks and zipped up to the top with the rest of the fish.
It was one of those moments where you suddenly let out the breath you didn't realize you were holding and you smile. And I finally noticed the rest of the fish. Literally, before then, the other fish all swimming around panting at the top of the tank didn't even register with me, so focused was I on this one dumb, trying to freak me out fish.
And for the first time, after many years of struggling with God over the concept, I understood how the shepherd leaves the 99, for the 1.