My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy. Norman Maclean
This past Thursday, my sons – Griffin, 20, and Penn, 16 – and I traveled to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park to have some together time, which we badly needed. Griffin had been “exiled” on Long Island, NY, playing baseball this summer, and the three of us were needing some time with each other badly.
We used flyfishing as an excuse to make the trip, which wasn’t so bad, because I fully contend that God gave us flyfishing both as a means to humility as well as to show us his glorious Creation. You see, a trout stream is more than just a ribbon of water. Each one has a personality, with runs and ripples, deep holes and secluded shallows – and, to catch a trout, you must first be able to read a stream – each run, each pool, every rock, every ripple. Ultimately, it’s more than just reeling in a fish. It’s a chess game of strategy and stealth that ends with the euphoric result of either bringing a fish to hand, or just simply enjoying the beauty of Creation. Really, it’s a no-lose situation.
The experience reminded me of several things, all of which I’m extremely grateful.
The Beauty of Creation
O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24 ESV
God is the Creator of this earth, this universe, and everything in it. To pause and take in the variety of what God has created can completely and utterly astound. There is so much that God has given us to enjoy, and even the Creation can show us much of what worshipping an awesome God is like. To stand in awe of this Creation is to stand in awe of its Creator.
The Joy of Relationships
I am so grateful that God has blessed me with the experience of being a father to boys – no, young men. There is a dynamic involved with young men that is as varied as God’s Creation. First, regardless of the situation, I’m the patriarch. The old guy. Wisdom is strength. And, when options fail, I’m the one who makes things right again. Second, the student becomes the teacher. The one I taught becomes the one who teaches. While this is a good thing, it also makes me realize that seasons have passed and I am more of an on-looker than a participant.
Regardless, though, through all that has been and all that will come, there is a joy in knowing that there will be an unspoken bond that we will share, not just from one time of standing in a stream waving a stick, but from all the times we worked together, played together, and journeyed together.
The Lesson of Grace and Discipleship
Ultimately, the experience teaches me that there is grace from God to enjoy the blessings of life – his Creation, my sons, living this life together, traveling on this journey together. And, while all of this is a blessing, it is also something that is to be worked at, to be made better, to be be enjoyed – even when the blessings are peppered with hurt and failure and pain. Like knowing God, and following him, having sons – and taking them fishing – can teach me that I must always work to be a better father, a better teacher, a better follower of God.
The quote at the beginning of this post is from a movie called A River Runs Through It. It’s one we have enjoyed watching over the years. Ironically, it is about a Presbyterian pastor who is a father of two sons who, through the years, have made a river and a flyrod the balm for what’s bitter in life. Whatever befalls them, they return to the river – together – to fish. My favorite and most memorable quote from the movie is when the father, Rev. McLean, remarks,
The Lord has blessed us all today…it’s just that He has been particularly good to me.
To that, I will say “Amen”!