One day an old man comes into the grocery store. He asks the grocer for all the fish he has. He asks the grocer if he feels alive today.
The grocer replies, “Yes, I suppose.”
The old man says, “Great, me too.”
The old man pays for the fish and leaves the store.
That same day the grocer is walking home from work on the path that he always takes, the one that runs along the river. This river is known for being dead. It has never had any fish in it. It is just water and rocks and mud. While he is walking, he sees the old man who bought all the fish. He is throwing the fish one by one into the river. The grocer stops and asks him what he is doing.
The old man says, “I am bringing the fish back to life. This river gives life.”
“Oh. Okay,” says the grocer. And he keeps walking, thinking that the old man is crazy.
But after walking a distance, he looks back. He sees the old man throwing another fish into the river. Right as he is turning around to head home, he catches a glimpse of a fish jumping out of the water. He looks again and sees nothing.
A week goes by and the grocer does not see the old man. Nor does he see any fish in the river.
He is walking home from the grocery store the next Tuesday along the river and he sees the old man lying unconscious near the river. He bends down and examines him. He has no pulse.
He begins to panic and looks around not knowing what to do.
He remembers the old man’s words, “This river gives life.”
On an impulse he drags the old man’s body into the river just enough so that he is briefly submerged. Then he pulls him along the shore so that his face is above the water.
“Please. Please,” he prays.
He feels for his pulse.
He waits, pouring water over the old man’s face every now and then.
An hour. Two hours. Three hours pass and still the old man has no pulse. He gives up hope in the river and runs to get help.
When he returns with help he cannot find the old man anywhere. He apologizes to the others and they leave.
He stares at the river, wondering.
A week. Two weeks. Three weeks go by and there is no sign of the old man. Not at the grocery store and not by the river.
The grocer has been deep in thought ever since the incident. One day at work, he comes out of his reverie and decides to do something.
He buys a fish, just one, since that’s all he can afford, and takes it to the river.
He looks at the fish in his hands looks at the river, pulls his arm back, and lets the fish fly into the murky depths.
He waits, staring at the river.
“Please. Please,” he prays.
An hour,. Two hours. Three hours go by and nothing happens.
He is about to turn away when he sees movement in the water.
He cannot believe his eyes.
The very same fish that he threw into the river is swimming up to him. There is no mistaking it.
“Wow,” he says.