Creation worshipping God. “The Diver” short story in “Anecdotes of Destiny” by Isak Dinesen (March 2008)

Susan's Thursday morning note March 20, 2008 
Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard by Isak Dinesen
Nature worshipping God.  Description of the fish.  

Good morning! Not only did the birds come to sing for me this morning, they even sang away outside my front door for me last night! Spring! Oh, the beautiful word.  My cats played all evening outside and I realized, “They don’t even realize what spring is – they’ve never experienced birds, worms, grasshoppers, SPRINGTIME!” How fun to live in an area with the four seasons.  How great to know every day is a little bit longer with the beautiful morning light!!!

I really want to write out for you another passage that has replayed in my mind several times this week as incredibly creative writing.  I hope you appreciate this beautiful writing, too.  This is from The Diver, another short story by our author of last week’s Babette’s Feast.  A young student was studying birds and made the observation, “Birds, must be, of all creatures, most like angels.  Whatever moveth both in heaven and on earth worshippeth God, and the angels also – and surely the birds move both in heaven and on earth…”  so he began a quest to study birds and create intricate wings to then have the ability to fly with the angels.  At one point in the story his hope and dreams are shattered and he ends up as a diver searching for pearls to make his money.  This is the section on fish (of all things – don’t roll your eyes!!!) that I just loved reading.  For the only reason of the beauty of the words, the ideas gave me a new facet of thinking about God’s creations (written from the voice of a wise old cowfish)…

The fish, amongst all creatures, is the one most carefully and accurately made in the image of the Lord.  All things work together for the good of her, and from this we may conclude that she is called according to His purpose.  Man can move in one plane, and is tied to the earth.  Still the earth supports him only by the narrow space under the soles of his two feet; he must bear his own weight and sigh beneath it.  He must, so I gathered from the talk of my old fishermen, climb the hills of the earth laboriously; it may happen to him to tumble down from them, and the earth then receives him with hardness.  Even the birds, which have wings to them, if they do not strain their wings are betrayed by the air wherein they are set, and flung down.

We fish are upheld and supported on all sides.  We lean confidently and harmoniously upon our element.  We move in all dimensions, and whatever course we take, the mighty waters out of reverence for our virtue change shape accordingly.

We have no hands, so cannot construct anything at all, and are never tempted by vain ambition to alter anything whatever in the universe of the Lord.  We sow not and toil not; therefore no estimates of ours will turn out wrong, and no expectations fail.  The greatest amongst us in their spheres have reached perfect darkness.  And the pattern of the universe we read with ease, because we see it from below…

When God created the heaven and earth, the earth caused him sore disappointment.  Man, capable of falling, fell almost immediately, and with him all that was in the dry land.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man, and the beasts of the earth, and the fowls of the air.
But the fish did not fall, and never will fall, for how or whereto would we fall? So the Lord looked kindly at His fish and was comforted by the sight of them, since amongst all creation they alone had not disappointed him.

He resolved to reward the fish according to their merit.  So all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, and the waters of the flood came upon the earth.  And the waters prevailed and were increased, and all the high hills that we under the whole heaven were covered.  And the waters prevailed exceedingly, and all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl and of cattle, and of beast and of every man.  All that was on dry land died. 

…How will real security be obtained by a creature ever anxious about the direction in which he moves, and attaching vital importance to his rising or falling? How can equilibrium be obtained by a creature which refuses to give up the idea of hope and risk?  We fish rest quietly, on all sides supported, within an element which all the time accurately and unfailingly evens itself out.  An element which may be said to have taken over our personal existence, in as much as, regardless of individual shape and whether we be flat fish or round fish, our weight and body are calculated according to the quantity of our surrounding which we displace. 

Our experience has proved to us, as your own will some time do it to you, that one may quite well float without hope, ay, that one will even float better without it.  Therefore, also, our creed states that with us all hope is left out. 

We run no risks.  For our changing of place in existence never creates, or leaves after it, what man calls a way, upon which phenomenon – in reality no phenomenon but an illusion – he will waste inexplicable passionate deliberation.  Man, in the end, is alarmed by the idea of time, and unbalanced by incessant wanderings between past and future. 

Isn’t that all so interesting?  I’ve honestly never contemplated the beauty of being a fish.  I especially loved the line…We move in all dimensions, and whatever course we take, the mighty waters out of reverence for our virtue change shape accordingly.  Isn’t that a beautiful scene in your head?  I am always amazed at how beautiful the details of all I do not even realize were woven into the thoughts of God as he created every facet, even to the fish in the sea!  I just wanted to type all of that for you – too intriguing not to! 

Thank you for coming in for your little gifts if you like to give a present at Easter time.  I am so proud of our little store & love to see your pride in having it be “yours” too!  Make sure we make decisions that make yourself proud, whether anyone besides will you ever know we made.  I hope you have private time to thank God for creating us for his pleasure, and because of his great immense love with us, sent his son to die so that we could spend eternity in his presence.  What a weekend – EASTER.  This week I said to Camden (after the idea at an thought-provoking funeral) – “What is a verse you know that we can think of today?” His simple response, “IT IS TRUE! The Lord has risen!” – Said with absolute sincerity and stated with pride!!!  Amazing that a six year old can be so understanding of something that can become complex!! May you have a peace that passes understanding as you get on your knees and look to the hills – where your help is promised to come from.  Susan

Latin for this week:  Nosce te ipsum - Know thyself.
Work Cited:  Isak Dinesen.  Anecdotes of Destiny.  New York.  Vintage.  1993.