Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sea of Life

When I was a boy of about 9 years old my dad took me fishing in his boat out in the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts. This began a love affair with the the sea which is still with me today but more importantly it gave me an opportunity to spend a day with my dad pretty much by myself. The preparation that one went through to get a chance to go fishing was time consuming and a lot of work. We (the kids that is) had to wash the entire boat, run the engine in a large plastic drum that had its top cut off,(something my dad created), get all the gear ready, including the fishing tackle, all the poles and rigs, the gaffs (large iron hook with a handle to use to bring the fish in the boat), the anchors and ropes, the life jackets, and flotation devices, the horn, cans or plastic containers of gas, and the bait. There were sandwiches to be made (there is something about being on the water that made me extremely hungry) and drinks to be iced. All this work turned out be a blessing for me, my three brothers did not enjoy the day of preparation and soon gave up fishing. I was rewarded with many Saturdays out on the water with just my dad (and sometimes one of his buddies). The memories of those trips have been with me my entire life. Jesus choose some fishermen to be his disciples, people who in a very small sense I share a kinship with. I think he knew exactly what he was doing in selecting these men. Fishing can teach you a lot about life. First, there is appreciation that the world is much bigger than you, you see its expansiveness when you look out to the horizon in a tiny boat. The work is difficult and tedious, requiring strength and determination. The sea is like a desert in one sense, when you are there alone on it, you are paradoxically in your own little space while floating in a much larger space. It is a very good place for contemplation. Fishing requires much patience, there are times when nothing goes right and the suddenly you run into a large school of fish. Long quiet waits are interspersed with moments of joy and excitement. Making fishers of men requires those same skills. I know, that is what I am doing each and every day, looking to catch somebody and give to them the greatest gift possible. The joy of truly knowing and living for Christ makes every day an adventure on the sea of life.

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