I have written a fair bit about my son’s pond and its inhabitants. I find watching the fish to be both calming and enlightening. It does not matter whether I am projecting human values onto the behaviour of the fish or reading too much into their antics. What matters is that watching them, engaging with them, has taught me a lot about how the human mind works. Truth can take any form that is amenable to understanding and sometimes, it looks like a fish.
Every so often, however, I must get closer to the fish and their domain than I would like. Pond maintenance is no joke, but it is my job. Filters must be cleaned, pumps must be hauled out and hosed, dead things removed and by the time you are done, you are all too intimately acquainted with water and its murky depths.
As I look down at the surface, the first thing that strikes me is that I cannot see beneath it when the sun is shining. No matter how clear the water, a bright day turns the surface into a silvered mirror and I see only me, the sky and any passing birds. Beyond my sight, there is a whole world I cannot see.
There may be strange things lurking beneath the surface, hidden depths and dangerous currents, and yet it is the very source of light by which I see that prevents me from seeing beneath the water. To bright and it dazzles the eye, interrupting vision and creating a solid barrier of the fluid surface of the water. Just as I cannot look directly at the source of that light, I cannot look at its unveiled reflection and see more that its face.
When the clouds veil the sun, the water becomes transparent once again, revealing the depths and its denizens. When I lean over the pond and my shadow darkens the surface, then too I can see deep into the water and the rich life within becomes visible… a life that could not exist without the light that hides it from my eyes.
When the sky weeps, casting ripples on the pond, the troubled surface neither reflects the sun nor reveals its depths and the window between the worlds closes.
Is what is true of the pond also true of the images it reflects?
There is an light that illuminates our hearts but is too bright to be seen. When it is glimpsed, we may be blinded by beauty. When it is veiled by tears, we are bereft of its touch. Our life, like that of the fish in the pond, is intimately linked with the source of that light.
Some call it a spark of some divinity, others may call it the soul, or love, or simply humanity. Call it what you will… the human form both reflects and reveals its presence. Even, or perhaps especially, in the shadows cast by our confused and confusing world.