Abundance and Need and Fish Left Over

I like Annie Dillard’s take on the parable of the loaves and fishes.  In the story, Jesus is given five loaves and two fishes and multiplies them to feed the masses. After the meal, the disciples gather the leftovers in baskets. As I listened to the reading last Sunday, I thought of Dillard’s words: wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled. You’ll have fish left over. (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

Not only will you be fed, along with the whole wide world, God will provide in such abundance that you will have fish left over.


On Saturday we visited a local frame shop to have a poster framed. The shop owner said he was still in business because he already owned the building, so paid no rent. He told us that at one time there were four frame wholesalers in Louisville (a mid-size city), and that the last one was on the brink of closing.  And of those frame shops like his that had weathered the last recession, most were now struggling to stay in business.


For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.


I sit on the patio at our apartment, closed book on my lap, distracted by beauty.  A squirrel in the dogwood branches above my head feasts on the ripened seeds, dropping fragments for Jack, the hound, to scavenge. Neighbors tell me that in 2008, winds from Ike (the same hurricane that devastated Galveston) took down a century old Ginko tree.  Yet today I look out on an abundance of fir and oak, tulip poplar and redbud. I picture my patio decked in greenery and twinkling lights as I imagine the first snow of winter, my first after eight years in Houston. There is such beauty in the abundance of the creation, fish left over.


A dear teenage friend has just learned that she is pregnant. She has struggled for nearly half her life with a disease that might kill her.  Her mother received hurtful emails from supposed friends who no longer want to support the family or receive news from them. Her mother writes, “Yes they should have waited, but what’s done is done and all babies are blessings from God.”


We buy striped zucchini – half green, half yellow – from twenty-something farmers at the local farmer’s market. We stock up on sweet corn and juicy local tomatoes, all packed away in our canvas grocery bag.


We visited a new church on Sunday where we learned they provided groceries for 430 families at last week’s food pantry. Palmer Church, in Houston, has gone from feeding 300 at the weekday morning Way Station, to 400 or more. This year they’ve seen more women in the mix, and numbers keep growing.


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. (Luke 6:38)


Jack and I walk every morning on city sidewalks past Craftsman bungalows, on boulevards past brick mansions, on tree-lined paths through Olmstead parks. We pass apartments with dangling downspouts and front yards of packed brown dirt. We watch squirrels dig in the sculpture garden of one manor house, behind an iron fence. When we venture down Bardstown Road, we pass tattoo parlors and bustling coffee shops. Neighbors wave and stop to chat; dogs bark.


Abundance and need. Can it be true that God will provide in such abundance? Will there be fish left over? Sometimes the need seems overwhelming. Sometimes the hill too hard to climb. One more day, one more storm, one more tree down, one more job lost. We are empty-handed. Grant us fish left over. Please. We pray with all that is in us, we pray for fish left over. It is all we ask, and it is everything.


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2 Responses to Abundance and Need and Fish Left Over

  1. Betty Kondrich says:

    Beautiful, Kathy. The thoughts, the plea, the photographs. Is there more to the parable than having left over baskets? Is it saying something deeper than there will be food aplenty? Is this a parable of faith, that God is in control? This is a hard parable to take to heart, to digest, when one is well fed, has shelter and employment. But there is more to our lives than the emptiness we feel in our bellies. God is also letting us know that there will be an abundance of love, acceptance, grace, redemption that will fill our souls and once that emptiness is filled, we will be able to serve God in the world to a people who are in need.

    • Oh I so agree, Betty. As Fred would say about the story of the prodigal son, the party starts now! It’s sometimes so hard to see amidst all the suffering, but you are so right, too, that in serving others we gain some deeper understanding of redemption. Thanks for your insight!

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