The Fish Bowl

[special_heading title=”The Fish Bowl” subtitle=”by Timothy J. Mooney” separator=”yes”]

The Word in Scripture

You are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  John 14:12


Mark Nepo, author and poet, tells the story of a friend who decided it was time to clean the grime from the inside of a small fish bowl set on his desk. He ran a tub full of cool water, poured his goldfish into the tub, and headed to the kitchen sink to give the fish bowl a good scrubbing. With a clean fish bowl in hand, he returned to the tub and was surprised to find the goldfish swimming around in a small circle, as if they were still confined to their fish bowl.

How circumscribed have you and I become? In what ways are we confined, limited, not allowed to go, afraid to go? We may have come honestly to our perceived boundaries as the result of upbringing and painful experience, but are those boundaries real or mostly in our minds?

We’re the light of the world?? We’ll do things greater than these?? We are shocked to hear these words of Jesus. They can’t apply to us. Can they?

Our faith is not salvation from this wretched fish bowl so we can swim in the big tub in the sky. Faith cleans the grime from our eyes so we might see we live, here and now, in God’s big tub of life.


Holy One, clean the film from our eyes, that we might see what we might do and become, and give us the courage to face our fears of becoming who you’ve invited us to be. Amen.


This week let your fears and anxieties be an invitation for noticing the ways you have agreed to limitations and boundaries. In what ways might you swim in a little bigger circle? What do you learn?