Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Redemption On The Lower Mountain Fork

I have fished since I can remember. Fishing was my father's obsession, and we went at least once a week even though we lived miles from any water in west central Texas. I began fishing competitively at age 12, placing second in my first tournament that year. We travelled from Mexico to Oklahoma to Arkansas to Louisiana to catch bass. Two to three times each year, we drove the 1,000 mile round trip to Toledo Bend. By the time I was a senior in high school, the pressure had taken its toll. The last time I ever fished with my father was that year on Toledo Bend. We had a great day, catching a stringer of bass with none less than 3 lbs. and several over 6. I only had a weekend to stay with the family on vacation and had to go home. Shortly after that, dad left us. My family disintegrated. In my youthful anger, I sold all the fishing equipment and hunting equipment he left behind. I was finished with high pressure hobbies. Eleven years ago, God moved us to Louisiana, just 20 miles from Toledo Bend. I have no boat now, and so fishing the lake is not easy, but I have done it a little (maybe 6 or 8 times in the past decade). I can still catch fish there. I picked up an 8 pounder a few years ago. I had loved fishing, but it had lost its appeal. It had, that is, until this past Spring. A friend wanted me to try my hand at fly fishing. I wasn't really sure when we met in Oklahoma. Then we caught fish. I was hooked, and it became somewhat of an obsession. However, I needed redemption. There were too many fishing ghosts lurking around my heart. I was afraid that I would pressurize the hobby and my family would experience what my original family had experienced. Well, I borrowed a rod for my 11 year old son, borrowed some waders, bought him a lanyard and a vest, and we headed to the river. I really love trout fishing. I love the cool, clear water. I love fishing without the hassle of a boat. I love the skill required and the pace of casting, tying, wading. I love this sport, but I wanted my son to love it, too. My daughter has an eye for things. She is a photographer, and fly fishing venues offer huge opportunities for her to practice her passion, but my son is different. We suited up, headed to the river. He lost a few fish, and then he landed one. He hooped and hollared. The next one was good, too. And then he caught the big fish of the trip the next day. It may not seem like much to many, but the joy on his face is not just the joy of his childhood, but, in many ways, the redemption of mine. I do not care if he fly fishes the rest of his life, nor do I care if I do. I am simply grateful that we have been able to share this time in our lives. I am so glad that he caught the big fish. We are going again on New Years. He is pumped. I did not miss fishing, but I have found joy in it again. God has redeemed it for me, and made it new and I am grateful.


Garrett Starr said...

I have often wondered how my own life would have been different if I had been raised in a Christian home by a father who had such a Christ-centered view of life. It moves me to want to be this for my own children. Thanks for this post.