Last Sunday I celebrated Easter with my boyfriend Eli’s family in Westchester, Pennsylvania. Moments after getting out of our car, Eli’s uncle motioned for us to follow him into the backyard. There, in a muddy runoff stream, was a great big Koi fish. It was hard to miss – black and orange, stunningly iridescent, and nearly two feet long. It slowly glided by, so wildly out of place in this shallow body of water that had formed from the river flooding the day before. I felt bad for it, knowing it would either die when the water dried up, or would be easily noticed by a predator as it lingered near the top.
In Genesis God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).
As humans, we are given power over these creations. What we do greatly affects the environment. Earth and its inhabitants are at the mercy of our hands. This crossed my mind when I first saw the fish. It was so majestic, and so easy to obtain from this small stream where it was stuck. When we see beautiful creatures in nature, we tend to want to possess them – hunting, killing, stuffing, framing, wearing, owning, and eating what we desire. That power was overwhelmingly evident as I stared at this helpless fish.
Last Monday was Earth Day and it was a reminder of how poorly we sometimes treat God’s gifts to us. This Koi, the land, the birds, everything around us is of God, and just because we can affect it so greatly does not mean we should. Or at the very least, if we do affect it, we should try to make our impact positive and not harmful. Once the rest of Eli’s family arrived for Easter, we all rolled up our pants, waded into the muddy water and guided the coy into a large bucket, which we used to eventually transport it to the river. It was scared and quite formidable, but we all worked together, risking soggy Easter clothes and poison ivy to save this beautiful creature.
Humans are capable of terrible deeds, but we can also be kind, loving and merciful. Holy Week is a special reminder of that, as it demonstrates the forgiveness of our sins, Jesus’s offer of redemption and the promise of eternal life. Saving one fish won’t change the world, but if we all showed kindness to animals, appreciated our land, and treated Earth with the respect and care God’s creation deserves, then we might have a chance of reversing past mistakes, and perhaps making a real difference.
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).