Humankind is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea. He drew it out of the sea full of small fish. The wise fisherman found among them a large, good fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without hesitation. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.
The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 8
The gospel of Thomas contains the sayings of Jesus in the wisdom tradition. I find the simple rendering of Jesus’s sayings leaves more room for me to walk around, to connect Jesus’s words to my own lived experience.
I believe that one thing, the large, good fish, is to love and be loved by God. I believe that relationship of love comes into our lives in tangible ways—maybe, reading and writing to witness that presence is one of those ways for me. It is a way of observing the world that doesn’t have to be figured out.
Instead of an act of judgment in the sorting of the catch that is explained in a similar story in Matthew’s gospel (13:47-49), the simple saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas expands the possibilities for fishing in my own life. I am distracted by many things. Many of those things are good, but nonetheless distractions. Perhaps I will recognize the “big fish” when I give my attention to those things that make God’s abundance easier to see rather than focusing on the mass of little fish that take up too much space.
In this morning’s sunshine, I decided to sit in my swing amid the “gardening” I’ve been doing. I looked over the newly transplanted rhubarb freely offered by a friend I haven’t seen since last fall. I felt the promise of the jasmine I’d planted behind me. I saw the places that are almost cleared of weeds for now and the places I still need to attend. I noticed the new green that has been resting all winter.
The bigger of our two apple trees in our yard is getting ready to blossom, the tiny leaves unfurling, and some almost buds are visible. The smaller apple tree is a little farther behind, still bare to my eye. However, a hummingbird has discovered something of new life in what look to me as just nubs. The tiny bird hovers just a foot from me, probably wondering when the sweet jasmine flowers will be available.
Sitting for these precious moments in the morning brightness, it is easier to experience what it means to hold on to that big and good thing and let go of the little fish that pretend to be bigger.
And then, I find some words to share that unsayable thing with you.