Friday, July 24, 2009

Holy Hitchhiker

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, " plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
When I return from wade fishing, I rinse off waders and boots. After a few hours, they are dry enough to bring in for storage. However, I leave my dip net on the porch propped against the wall for a couple of days until the wind and heat assure it won't mold. When I picked up my net to return it to its hook yesterday, I noticed gooey yellow slime on the slider unit. After wiping it off with a paper towel, I discovered a hitchhiker in the form of a caterpillar who had obviously deposited the goo. I carefully balanced him on the net handle and took him outside to leave him on the porch rail in a safe place. This time I made it a few more steps when I saw the result of part of a butterfly's life cycle: a brown lumpy chrysalis imprinted with an undecipherable shape almost like the hardened body of a caterpillar. Who would have guessed that in all the normal habitats around our back porch for such an event to happen, the worm would have chosen the dip net? There are all kinds of nooks, posts and ledges on the porch as well as plants, trees and brush only a few feet away. But the worst part of all, was that I had inadvertently interrupted his mission: to complete the pupate stage in which he will form the chrysalis around his own body thus imprisoning himself until he “dies” to resurrect again as a fully formed butterfly in the future. What I had done by my “good deed” of releasing him outdoors was to force him to begin the process all over again. I reflected on how often we mortals interrupt God's plan for our lives with our petty concerns and agendas. I can only speculate how much we must try his patience when he has to start over again re-molding and shaping us into the Christians he wants us to be.
Yet, I see the results of his efforts as I gaze out my office window. I feel as though I'm immersed in my own butterfly kingdom. With the onslaught of summer sun, our butterfly bushes are now as tall as the lower edge of our windows. Like the hypnotic trance one encounters when staring at a fish aquarium, I'm mesmerized by this view of a variety of Ozark butterflies to delight the eyes. Smaller varieties, like the Zebras with their turquoise colors banded by black stripes, frolic and drink from blooms next to my little corner of the universe. They're often accompanied by hummingbirds who flee from our sugar water feeders to seek a more natural taste. When these creatures leave, the larger swallowtails arrive at the table including the Tiger, Spicebush and the Giant Black Swallowtail. They drift and cavort in the glimmering buds until I'm almost lulled to sleep, so peaceful is their rise and fall ... like a baby's sigh during nap time. And once again, I'm reminded of the simpler pleasures in life and the glory of God's love and patience ... where time waits for the rustle of butterfly wings and sunshine brings them back to me at dawn.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Only One

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;he will save; he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
Recently, the hot line number for the generation schedule at Bull Shoals Dam announced 2 units. I checked the water level on our campground boat ramp and decided I could safely wade there or a high mound of gravel bar upriver. Choosing the latter, I found clear water and safe footing. My approach was to cast a fly, let it swing in the current for a few seconds and then drift next to a brush pile. Trout often seek the quieter water in this situation where they wait in lazy fashion for served food. Several light ticks on the line indicated small fish, but nothing I could capture. After trying a Little Randy fly (very hot the week before on no generation), I experienced no hits both with and without a strike indicator. Next I attached a tan scud with no results either. I paused to watch a pair of damsel flies land on my sleeve. I wondered if they were attracted to my sea foam colored shirt or simply paused to visit. Concentrating again on the task at hand, I chose my “go-to” fly: Mike's White River Angel. I used it first with a strike indicator with no action. Since I normally like to strip the fly in, I removed the indicator, cast into fast water and again allowed it to drift into the seam separating shallow water from deep. A strong take startled me and a sassy fat Rainbow gave me keen competition. After several healthy lunges, he finally tired and I scooped him up in my dip net. I gratefully admired his vibrant colors; then I eased the dip net back into the water for his release. Any day with at least one fish in the net is always a joy to a rookie fly fisher.
God ministers to each of us on an individual basis. He lovingly catches us in the midst of our struggles in icy cold waters, washes our sins away, then gently releases us to witness to others of his mighty power. He takes great delight in every single one of us.
The shirt sleeve view and rich hues of the damsel flies as they sought respite, were simply added blessings.