Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 2 - Religion & Fly Fishing

In Norman Maclean's book "A River Runs Through It", he starts his story with this paragraph:
"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fisherman, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fisherman and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman."

Tom Brokaw has mentioned:
"If fishing is like religion, than fly-fishing is high church."

Now you may wonder why I have chosen to use these two statements to kick off my journey. It is because I am a resident of both camps. I grew up a devout Quaker, had a Youth Ministry focus for my undergrad, and wound up marrying a woman who is a Presbyterian minister. Also, unlike some dads who taught their kids how to play catch, throw a perfect spiral, or how to keep their stick on the ice, my dad taught me how to fish, hunt, and camp. Also, when you add that I am a Boy Scout (an Eagle Scout actually), minored in outdoor leadership, and worked in the fishing retail industry, you can understand how these two quotes play in my life.

I didn't learn how to fly fish until I was in college. I was introduced to fly fishing when I was in my early teens, but I always ended up snapping off the fly and causing quite a mess that I quickly got discouraged. Now when I go to the stream, I feel a little more apt, but I still create tangles and snag trees now and then. But, now I don't feel so discouraged.

I now understand that this is just part of the process of leaving the world behind, and entering into a peaceful meditative state that comes with being alone in the wilderness. When I'm fishing, the outside world seems to cease, and for that moment its just me, the stream, the rod, and if I'm lucky a trout or two. And I guess at this point, this is where God starts to creep in.

I sometimes find it difficult to worship at church. When I look around at all the people, the man-made objects, and hear the un-motivated songs of praise I feel uneasy. I find myself asking where is God in all of this?

Yet when I'm on the stream, I see the Creator's work all around me. I see the moss covered boulder, I hear the wind the through the trees, I feel the cool water around my legs, I smell the decay of leaves, and I can even taste the spray of the water as it splashes around the rocks.

And it is here, surrounded and immersed in God's creation that I tend to be most reverant. That song breaks forth from my soul praising His holy name. It is where I bow my head in remembrance.

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