Friday, December 23, 2016

Do Not Go Gentle

Brown Trout - Rapid Creek - Summer 2016
When, I wonder, did I become mortal.

I recollect, even from my youth, an abiding jealousy for the integrity of my frame.  There was little to merit the risk of injury and pain.  These threats were sufficient inspiration to avoid work or sport.  I did, however, really ever think that  I might die.  As with nearly all those still in the flower of youth, death was not real.  Even when it lurked near, as it did when I rolled my grandfather's old Ford pickup, or when I rolled my own Oldsmobile a few years later, I cannot recall that I took the possibility of death seriously.  When a seventh grade peer died of cancer, it was sad, but it never occurred to me that such a fate might as easily have been my own.  Pain was possible; death was not.  

Even now, the word fear fails to capture my attitude toward my own ultimate dissolution.  I think of my death often; death will eventually come for me.  I may rage against it.  I might cleverly delay it.  But death will win.  It is in this sense of resignation, I think, that one first becomes truly mortal.

Mortality insists that I concede that I am also finite.  Rage though I may, time will ravage me, men will ignore me, loved ones will not love me, my own strength or will shall fail me, my body shall betray me, and mortality will steal what is precious to me.  The sun sets.  The sun also rises.  There is nothing new under the sun.  

It is surely the inevitability of this inescapable entropy that adjures me to resist while yet I might.  Is this the allure of fly fishing?  Perhaps I am like a fish upon a line handled by the Master Angler.  Perhaps I, like so many trout unlucky enough to be fooled by my own abecedarian  flailing of the line, might shake my head, flee across the current, leap into the air, and throw the hook.  Or perhaps the hook will remain.  The Master Angler will play me, giving slack here and increasing drag there until, in his providence, I lay gasping in his net.

Give me, O Master Angler, plenty of line.  Let me strain against it.  Let me leap among those you have given to me to love.  May their love for me be the cutbank toward which I flee when strange shadows threaten above.  Keep me out of the dangerous entangling willows.  Should I break the line, do not quit for the day.  Cast for me once again.  And, should you bring me to net, if it be your will, Master Angler, release me as often as you might.  But keep a fly in your box you know I will bite.



  1. awesome, Father, I just found your blog!

  2. As someone who has been touched by the death of family members, - starting with my sister killed by a drunk driver when I was 15 and she was 16, and sat with one brother and my mother in their respective deaths, I no longer fear death, although I perhaps fear the circumstances of death. All I can do is pray that I have proper preparation for death and that it does not come upon me suddenly like a thief in the night.


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