I went fishing with my dad this week. We try to schedule a morning at least once a year together, and because my birthday is in the summer, no matter when we meet, we call it my birthday fishing trip because that’s how this tradition began--finding time for just he and I. As he pulled the boat trailer out of the water, I stood on the dock holding the rope for the boat as if it were a sleeping water horse just floating there. It was 6:30 in the morning, the sun was cresting the treetops and vapor rose off the water in cottony drifts. To the right, I saw a heron poised, waiting for his breakfast to swim by. Closer to me, I noticed several little dots on the water. They would disappear in a ring of water circles and reappear some distance away. Turtles. They were the only creatures stirring the water that early in the morning; its glassy surface reflected the sky and it appeared as if I could fall forever or float forever if I would just take that one, brave step.
The water reminded me of people. In the stillness of that moment, in the way the water reflected everything that was new and beautiful about the day, I thought of the people who are beautifully still, reflecting the goodness of life.
Water isn’t always still. Nor are people. There are stormy days when the lake looks grey and unwelcoming. Wind chops the water into waves and rocks the boat. Droughts leave the lake low and weedy, unswimmable as the slimy grasses and algae take over what is normally clean(ish) water. Rainy seasons make the lake swell, the small creeks and tributaries rush with the onslaught, flooding the lower regions.
No matter what the season or weather, water draws us to it. We drink it, wash with it, dance in the rain, huddle together during storms. We buy water in bottles, spring-pure or carbonated or flavored. We vacation near it, float on it, and swim in it. Water is the source of life. It makes up 60% of the human body and covers 71% of the earth. The human brain and heart are composed of 73% water. No wonder God selected water for the Sacrament of Initiation! The cleansing waters from the baptismal fount with which we bless ourselves as we enter the church are to remind us of the promise of our baptism--that we are called to God’s family, led by Christ we are called to love one another as he loved us, that we are here for a purpose, and it is good.
As the morning came to a close and our fish basket was nearing our limit, we reluctantly called it a day. Dad slowly drove the boat back to the dock and we loaded it onto the trailer. When everything was put away and there was no reason to linger, Dad wrapped one arm around me and held me close. “You know,” he said, “when I got here, I knew it would be great. But I also knew that before I would be ready, the morning would end and we would have to leave.” I hugged him and didn’t want to let go. And in a way, I never will. I tried to tell him that but my words got stuck in my throat.
The waters of life. It will all be over too soon. Let’s promise to make the most of our lives, to hug the people we love, and to go fishing at least once a year. Let’s love the life we’ve been given and not let go easily. Let’s also reflect the beauty of God, embrace the storms, survive the droughts, bless others with a flood of love, and return often to God to receive His blessings in the Sacraments.