I’m not a particularly religious man—although I do believe in a supreme being.  I was raised a Catholic, subsequently became a Methodist, and eventually gave up on organized religion completely nearly twenty years ago.  Presently, I consider myself a “Transcendental Deist,” a descriptive label I concocted to describe my  relationship with the universe—and more importantly, with God.  So, recently, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when, during the ride home from a day-long fly fishing outing, I suddenly found myself reciting a psalm from the Bible.  I can assure you that my recitation was not an accurate, word-for-word representation, but it was reasonably close, and that served my purposes just fine.

What prompted this spontaneous display of religious expression?  Well . . . to properly explain it, I need to relate the activities of the day that brought me to that point.  Actually, those activities had been precipitated by an e-mail I received the previous day from a good friend, who invited me to fish with him on a favorite trout stream of ours.  My original inclination was to politely decline.  Due to various situations beyond my control, I’d been in a kind of funk for a week or two (or maybe it was more like a month or two), and the thought of the preparations necessary to join him seemed daunting.  Fortunately, my wife convinced me that it would “do you good to get out,” and I reluctantly agreed.  I replied to Gene’s e-mail, and arranged to meet him on the river at ten.  By the time I got to bed, it was well after midnight.

At 7:25, I awoke, quietly slipped from my bedroom, and tiptoed down the stairs to the basement to begin frantically assembling my gear.  Normally, my fly-fishing paraphernalia is neatly stored, but lately, in keeping with my “funky” state of mind, the stuff was spread around the back room of my basement.  Eventually, I managed to corral everything I needed, threw it in the truck, and set off for the river.

My day brightened considerably upon viewing Gene, whom I hadn’t seen since December.  After getting into our waders, donning our fly vests, and lining up our fly rods, we headed down the path to the water.  Gene positioned himself about seventy five yards below me, and we each began to fish.   The air was crisp and clean, and the water exceptionally clear.  Because of some balance issues that I have struggled with for nearly twenty years, I was particularly grateful that the power company that controlled the flow of water had chosen not to release this day.  The level was perfect!

In the first two hours, I hooked, landed, and released more than a dozen trout, all of them rainbows.  Both Gene and I have a habit of whistling to one another when we hook a fish, and judging by the number of whistles coming from below me, it appeared that Gene was having as much success as I was.  After a while, he worked his way up the river, and joined me at the head of the pool I’d been working, where we continued to fish for about two more hours.  At that point, Gene decided to move downriver to a different spot, and I decided to stay put.  I caught a couple more fish, but the action had definitely cooled down.  About an hour later, we reconnoitered at the parking area, where we sat munching on snacks, sipping soft drinks, and exchanging small talk.  By the time we ran out of topics—they were varied and more than a little interesting—nearly two hours had elapsed.  It had been a wonderful day spent with a good friend, doing what we both loved to do, and I was feeling particularly fortunate.  More importantly, the “funk” had departed.

Saying goodbye to Gene, I piled my stuff into the truck, called my wife on my cell phone to tell her I was heading home, and began driving.  That’s when the biblical psalm came into my head.  I guess my subconscious mind just decided that it was appropriate for the occasion, and my conscious mind couldn’t help but agree—especially considering certain lines that were contained in the passage.  So, what psalm was it that surfaced, you might ask?  Well, it was the 23rd, and in case you’re not familiar with it, or haven’t read it in a while, I’ve included it below.  If you read it carefully, I think you’ll understand why it was so relevant.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (emphasis mine)

__Psalm 23, King James Version, The Bible

NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is BentOpening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises.  All four are available in paperback and E-book.  As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises soon to follow.

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