Now that Spring is here, for me that means accompanying Neill on some of his fishing adventures. Sometimes I fish too, but only when in the mood! Neill caught his first trout of the season just the other day at Gardner Lake, a lovely brown trout that was returned to the waters to swim another day. My favorite poet Mary Oliver tells the story that she was on a boat with a Provincetown fisherman and they ended up hauling in a spider crab, a creature that looks “like an angel of desolation.” The fisherman ended up sighing and dropping the creature to the ground, kneeling down to work on the hook. He said, “Never take from the sea what you don’t use” and returned the spider crab to the waters.* Neill and I abide by this mantra as well.
Jesus’ disciples Peter, Andrew, James, and John were all professional fishermen. Jesus called them to follow him along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. There’s that wonderful story I preached on in February (Luke 5:1-11) about a miraculous catch of fish. Jesus boards Peter’s boat and teaches the crowds that had gathered before him. When he’s done, he instructs Peter to row out farther, row out into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch. Peter replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” (Luke 5:5) Those fishermen end up hauling in so many fish that their nets begin to split, and then they leave everything behind to follow Jesus—to start fishing for people.
But oh, how I identify with Peter now.
Fishing is not for the impatient. Fishing is not for the faint-hearted.
The truth is that you can be out there for hours fishing . . . casting your line and reeling in your line and rebaiting your hook because some impertinent fish steals your bait . . . and still catch nothing.
“Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing.”
I feel you, Peter. Sometimes that’s just how fishing (and life) goes.
And yet, even so, what a joy to be out on the water. Happy Spring!
*Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays, pg. 39.
Thursday Thoughts 3/24/22