Thursday, March 4, 2010


Inopportune: inappropriate or ill-timed; not opportune Inopportunity: walking back to your SUV after a long day of fishing and being caught by an old man who just needs to talk; as in, "what happened to me yesterday as my son and I walked back to the SUV"

Lee is in his late 80's. He has five children and a wife who is not that wild about spending two weeks in a camper in Oklahoma. He spent his life working for a major airline, making sure that airplanes had peanuts, pretzels, and ready-to-eat meals to serve flyers. He's from Michigan but has retired in Texas. He also has vertigo, which is why he mostly fishes from the shoreline. Losing your balance in the middle of the stream can be a little dangerous. I know much, much more about Lee, because he told me as we stood on the side of the Evening Hole yesterday afternoon. I don't mind listening. I have learned to do alot of that, but my son was with me and it was his 13th birthday, and, please forgive me, but I was a little more focused on my son than on Lee. I was in the middle of an inopportunity and tried to find my way out. That's when it happened. Lee really opened up about his heart.

"My son gave me this really nice rod and I just broke it, shut it in the trunk. I got really discouraged. I don't have alot of money, but I thought about just buying another and not telling him. I thought about just going home. Then I thought, 'that wouldn't be right.' Then I asked myself, 'Lee, why is it that you are so down? It's just a rod.' It dawned on me. I didn't want to disappoint my son."

I was tempted to say, "Well, I bet that if your son cared enough about you to give you that really nice rod, he would certainly understand, he certainly loves you more than the rod." I didn't, though, because I don't know anything about his son. I did, however, notice that his rod (now pieced together with duct tape) was exactly the same brand as the one I carried in my hands. I smiled and said, "Lee, you don't have to worry. The company you bought it from will replace your rod. They replaced mine just last summer when I did the same thing you did."

"Really?" Lee asked. I assured him that it would be o.k. He said, "Yes, but I'm still gonna tell my son. He's the one who bought me this really expensive rod." I then said, "Lee, let me tell you what someone else told me one time. There are only two kinds of fly rods; those that have been broken, and those that have not yet been broken." You would have thought that I just decoded the Rosetta Stone or something. His mouth opened wide, he put his old hand on my shoulder, and he said, "Thank you. That makes everything better. You know, that applies to just about everything in life, doesn't it?"

Lee went on to talk about some conversations he had with an old friend, conversations that had broken his heart. He talked about his love for God and his family. Another man came by and talked to him and I had a way out, even tried to excuse myself, when I saw a ring on his finger. It was exactly like the cross ring I wear on my right hand. Then I noticed his wedding ring. It was inscribed with exactly the same Hebrew verse as my wedding ring. He just kept talking and I said, "Lee, I have to interrupt you." "Oh, I know, you need to go," he said. "No," I told him, "Look at that ring and the one on my hand and look at that ring and the one on my other hand." His mouth dropped open again and we just kept talking.

I could go on and on because the conversation went on and on about faith, his discouragement with fake religion and his desire to live life right. Again and again he thanked me for telling him how to get his rod fixed, how much easier that would make telling his son, how proud he was to catch fish even with a broken rod.

Sometimes, I fail to see the opportunity within the inopportunity.


Danny said...

That's really cool! God is good all the time. Glad ya'all are having a good time.