When something is so absolutely vital to your existence, but you are unaware of it until you are deprived of it, what should we call that? I propose we look to fish for a small clue. Now pretending I know what fish think is utter lunacy indeed. But I think we can deduce some things that are fairly likely to be approximately true. When I come upon a fish in its natural habitat and remove it from the water it is pretty clear that: a) it immediately and instinctively senses a huge problem and b) it probably never imagined such an existential event occurring prior to me catching it and pulling it into what amounts to be a hostile context that will lead to certain death. Suffice to say, it appears that fish live unaware of the absolute need for water until they are deprived of it.
You see, a fish without water may be a metaphor for people who refuse to see that the very ground of their existence and the very life they live is from God. This metaphor fits in so many ways. Most people live unaware, except for a few moments here and there, that the very “I” they live with is powered by an ineffable spirit that comes from the Great Spirit. The metaphor works on so many levels. If we imagine the fish able to analyze and discuss amongst themselves, one could imagine that it would be very similar to what we hear people saying about whether God exists. You see, for the fish water does not exists in that it is so innate to their lives that it is only when they are removed from this that they realize something is wrong. But these same fish would not be able to really prove the existence of water and its vital source of life unless they had received revelation. The very water in which they live is just “assumed” and therefore ignored in daily life.
A little cute indeed…but there is some truth in this mental exercise. Could it just be that we breath the “oxygen” of God every day and only in exceptional circumstances become aware that there is “something” in us so vital and yet so “other” to us that is so critical to our very lives?
Perhaps we, like fish, swim in a sea of ignorance, but I hope those of you who deny there is a God can be sure you are not like the very fish who are unaware that without water they are dead.