Tips for Fishing and Living # 13

Tip #13:

“If fishing is like religion, then fly-fishing is high church.”

Tom Brokaw

Recently I attended a church of sorts. I say this because I think of church as people rather than a building. This is theologically consistent with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council that called church “the people of God.”

This one particular church I speak of was at a farmer’s market. We attended this very large market because one of our daughters sells smoothies there. The market operates each Sunday during the entire summer. There are vendors selling all sorts of locally grown produce, as well as, there are vendors selling hand-made crafts and art, and also, various food concessions.

Toward the end of the day I observed numerous people – vendors from some of the other booths – coming by our daughter’s smoothie stand and bringing to her different items. Some brought fresh fruits or vegetables, others came with flowers, plants, or produce, or whatever products from their own stands. I discovered that these people had come by our daughter’s smoothie stand at different times during the day for smoothies that our daughter handed out to them.

They were now returning to “pay back” with some reciprocal items. This was a lovely exchange of mutual giving from one’s gifts and talents. This was also an experience of gathering of people and of being church. This Farmer’s Market community is one of our daughter’s communities.

She and her husband are a vital part of it. This is a community that truly knows how to take care of one another. I witnessed them doing so with remarkable humor and banter, humility, tenderness, and grace; and I dare say, love.  

This gets us back to love; the love we are called to provide – to ourselves and to others. Our unique gifts and talents are our primary route for us to express our own distinct brand of love. It is also the route to one’s own happiness: giving to others.

There is a paradox for one finding happiness and it is found by offering our help, support and using our gifts and talents for the benefit of others. Some while ago a man told me he saw his purpose in life to: (a) grow in his capacity to love, and (b) to somehow make a positive difference in the world. That’s a pretty good dictum for anyone to embrace. I think it might be what is preached at High Church. The best preaching occurs, of course, not by our words, but by our actions.

Religious people – truly religious people – are not those who say their prayers the loudest or can quote from the bible. They are, instead, the ones who know how to love. They are the ones who know how to inspire with that love and to do so without expecting anything in return.

Churches are full of people who originally started going to church because their parents dragged them there as children. Later on they went because their husband or their wife made them go. Then it was due to their children. Finally they went out of habit.

Some of the lucky ones eventually figured out, along the way, a real reason for going. These are the ones who found a valuable resource in church participation and it was good for their own inner spirit. But many do not. These folks are not religious people – church goers or not.

These are rigid people who are mostly unhappy, and who don’t know what it is that could or would make their own spirit dance. They either don’t know it, or haven’t tried to figure it out. This would require going deeper into themselves.

This of course requires one to stop and listen to the inner voice that knows such things. It seems simple enough to discern what makes one happy, but too often we don’t allow this kind of insight to formulate.  Sometimes our inner voice gets silenced while we’re still in our childhood.

We might have been given too many “shoulds” that got embedded into us before we were capable of seeing them for what they truly are –namely, other people’s expectations for us. These very often are given to us by well-meaning people, but the result is they deter us from following our own true bliss, especially if one’s bliss is markedly different from those around us.

Let’s say, for instance, if both your parents are engineers, and you love to paint and draw, you could have gotten caught in a serious conflict of loyalties.

So what does make one’s spirit dance? This is an important question. Too important to not address. This question takes one beyond just survival mode and moves one into the possibility of being a fully alive and vibrant person.

I contend we are spiritual beings who have a physical body, and not the other way around. Therefore, one could say all of our life issues, especially in the latter part of life, are all spiritual issues.

And because these issues can be so overwhelming we tend to generate convenient distractions – issues and crises of the moment, whose sole purpose is to shield us from those larger, existential issues that don’t seem to have easy or simple answers, like: Who am I? What is the meaning of life? What is my own purpose?

These type of questions have to do with one’s calling, or what religious people call one’s vocation. This then has to do with us realizing we each have certain God given talents and abilities that are not merely for ourselves, but are within us to utilize in order to make the world slightly better than it was before we got here.

 As Americans we can sometimes focus primarily on our individual rights and freedoms, to the exclusion of our corresponding responsibilities. We are individuals, while at the same time, we are also part of the greater good. We are a part of a common humanity.

Each of us is capable of greatness. When we bring our respective gifts and talents together for the benefit of each other we then accomplish greatness way beyond what we can do alone. 

 If we cannot find the necessary resources for our spirit/soul inside a church, then go elsewhere. Go outside. Smell the roses that line the sidewalks leading to the church. Go within; discover the God that dwells within. Go fishing if that suits you.

If you go searching wherever this may take you, I promise you won’t upset God one bit. In fact God will dance with you when you start twirling. Don’t waste a moment being in discontentment. Go on your quest; your journey; your adventure.