My meager minnows

Published 11:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2024

Some kind of miniature fish would add to it — those were my thoughts as I cleaned around the small, artificial stone enclosure in our backyard. Each spring, the “water garden” had been home to a generous collection of tadpoles that always grew limbs and left their birthplace. They enjoyed the few water plants that I had added for a bit of shade to the miniature body of water, but I was convinced that some goldfish would add the life and color that were lacking.

Othel suggested a bait shop that might have gold fish. Off we headed to the bait shop. The gentleman behind the counter asked if we needed help. I asked if he had any goldfish. There were no goldfish, but they did carry minnows — the bait size for fishing.

He directed a teenager to show me the substitute goldfish. A large vat with gurgling motion didn’t reveal any minnows, but the teenager scooped into the water and netted a sample for me. They were small, a shiny gray — not what I had imagined but at least they weren’t the same color as the tadpoles.

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“How many?” He asked. “Two,” I replied. With a hint of frustration, he netted me two. Just as he went to dump them in a small styrofoam coffee cup, one gave a flip and landed on the floor. He scooped it up, and netted me another one. That cup proved too small, so he went for the large styrofoam cup. After a bit more netting and filling the cup, he placed the lid securely and I went to the counter with my purchase.

“How many?” the owner asked. “Only two,” I answered. With the same puzzled, semi-annoyed look, he shook his head and asked for $.25. By now, I was feeling like a misfit customer. With the transaction completed, we headed home.

Regardless of my minimal and meager purchase I was proud of my two shiny minnows and held the styrofoam cup gingerly. Within a few miles of home, my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted another look at my water garden occupants. I gently removed the lid and gasped. There was only one minnow in the cup and it was floating on its side — never to swim in anyone’s water garden.

Even Othel wanted to look for himself. I was now the owner of a dead minnow and a Houdini mystery. After trying to figure out how that happened before our eyes, we joined in a good laugh. It was a ridiculous feeling — I had been holding that cup like it contained a special treasure.

I thought about that experience as I went outside to bury the dead minnow in a flowerpot. I pictured so many humans holding onto their lives like the prized possession that they are, but not realizing that they are “spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins.” No eternal life in heaven and no hope. I may put a tiny marker in that flowerpot to remind me to pray for those who ignore Christ’s invitation to “Come.”

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.