One of the most compelling images Brother and I came across on our Street Retreat was a large goldfish in a pool in the middle of a garden. We were not able to enter the garden, but observed all its beauty, including the goldfish, from the outside. More gems about the garden to come later, but for now – the goldfish!
So there is a goldfish, swimming in a pool, surrounded by flowers and trees climbing up into the sky. This is the biggest goldfish I have ever seen. I am amazed.
I learned a few weeks ago that goldfish will grow to fit the size of the environment you place them in, but I never expected such a fish would grow as large as this one! It was nearly a fish worth fishing for, and especially as homeless men it wasn’t such a bad idea. Alas, we admired the fish for its shine and peaceful coexistence in the midst of the garden sanctuary.
The thought struck me, are people like goldfish? Do we grow to fit the environment in which we live? As Brother and I moved through the streets, identifying with any church step, scaffolding, or thick foliage as a potential resting place for the evening, our sense of home expanded well beyond any single enclosed structure. The world became a place to rest our heads, and in that sense, our home. And as our sense of home grew and grew, so did our comfort and confidence in the arena of Manhattan. No longer were we scared or timid, but rather we were bold and boisterous about our ways.
We would sing on the street, shout on the street, and even do more singing on the street. Any sense of superficial judgment by others vanished from our thoughts as we felt more at home in the city. Just like the goldfish, we grew to fit our environment.
The challenge now becomes, how can we each grow, in our non-homeless lives, so that we identify with a larger part of our environment and so feel more at home anywhere in the world, rather than just our usual home or place of work? The world, after all, is home for all of us. And as much as any single person passes you on the street, they might as well be visiting you in your home. Why not treat them like a guest? Like a neighbor? Love ‘em!
Let yourself be at home in the world and grow like the goldfish.