Jan 5, 2011

The Grand Canal


“Don’t you dare” I snarled to my brother.  He was holding a dead fish in his hand and was about to fling it at me.  This was a risky proposition. If he threw the fish at me I would go straight to mom.  But if he just dropped the fish, I would win.  I watched him figure all of this out in his head.  Neither choice was acceptable.  So he continued to ponder his options.


It was sometime in the 1970s.  My mother had a wonderful vegetable garden.  She grew eggplant, squash, tomatoes, green onions, and carrots.  We always had fresh vegetables from the garden at dinner.  One year, my mother heard that they were going to drain the Grand Canal in Phoenix.  The purpose was to dredge out all the sediment and clean it up.  My mother got this hair-brained idea that the dredge in the canal would be a great fertilizer for the garden.


So one Saturday morning, I and my two brothers sat in the back of the family pickup truck and we drove up the street to the Grand Canal.  We used pitchforks and shovels and filled the back end of the pickup with sludge and dead fishes.  Since there wasn’t room in the cab – and because we were all dirty from shoveling fish guts - my mom forced us to sit in the back on the ride home.


It was then that my brother picked up the fish and threatened me with it.  I could tell he really wanted to fling the dead fish at me.  But I also knew that mom’s fuse was short that morning and that he didn’t dare risk her anger.  We were stopped at a traffic signal and I turned away – simply daring him to throw the fish at me.


After we started up again I looked back at him …and the fish was gone!  He had this big grin on his face.  I turned to my other brother with a questioned look on my face.  He pointed to the car traveling along side of us.  It was a convertible with the top down and on the back seat was the dead fish.


There is a pact between brothers.  If one hurts or teases another it is perfectly acceptable to go squawk to mom or dad.  But when death is on the line we would stand together and protect each other.  Throwing a dead fish into the convertible was a brilliant move.  He won.  He knew I would never tell mom.


When we say that Jesus is our brother – it is in this sense.  That he would stand up for us even when we do really stupid things.  It’s part of His pact with us.  It’s what we celebrate this season.  That Jesus came from heaven to love us like a brother.


May you have a joyous Christmas celebrating His birth.


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