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A Letter From A Father

Dear Chuck,

Thanks so much for the fabulous time of fishing and fellowship. Once again our time with you was invaluable and we made beautiful memories that Mack and I will share for the rest of our lives. I just cannot thank you enough for all that you do.

Mack thinks the world of you, not just because of your prowess with a fly rod, but also because you are a kind and patient encourager who relates to him as an enthusiastic friend or older brother. More than your fly-fishing skill, it is the love you show that opens the door for your words about what it means to be a man. As a father, I appreciate the seeds that you have planted in my sonās life.

It is hard for me to put into words why these times are so important and what the medium of fly-fishing has to do with growing boys and spiritual training. I can say that rivers have much to teach us. When I gaze out on a clear, cold, trout-bearing river, it speaks to me in many ways. The river spreads a visual feast before me, and invites me in. The river does not seek to impose its will on me, but if I am to catch a fish, I must gently enter the ancient flow and rhythm placed there by the Creator. I cannot thrash the water, or impose my own rhythm and form on the river, and expect to be rewarded with a fine trout. Fly-fishing, in its purest form, is more about joining into the peaceful beauty of Godās creation, and less about being beautiful myself. If I am to enjoy the greater reward of a brilliantly colored trout, so perfectly designed for its world, I must continuously conform to the nature of Godās creation and bear up under the cold, and the tangled lines, and the lost flies, and patiently continue to believe and hope and endure, until such time as the riverās grace covers me.

Even when I settle down, and settle in, and float a fly that, for a brief moment, exists in perfect harmony with sky, water, insects and trout, I will be rewarded on Creationās schedule, not my own. But when the reward comes, I become a wild adventurer, and life takes on the form of art. An exciting story unfolds before my eyes: my firm yet gentle lift on the line, the troutās pull and fire unleashed, a splashing, flash of variegated color flying under and above the water. In that moment, I am hooked and heaven bound. I can nudge, I can pull, I can struggle, but I cannot demand. The line that connects us is too fragile. If I am to land this fish, I must completely let go, while standing my ground. I must hold on, but not too tight. There is a sense of urgency, but I must be patient. I must wrestle for my blessing, as Jacob wrestled with God.

Fly-fishing reminds me to look at what God is doing around me, and join in. Fly-fishing reminds me that, if I wish to receive Godās greater reward, I must be conformed to His image of a man, and not my own, and that the greatest reward of all is not to be beautiful myself, but to join the beautiful story that God is creating in the midst of this fallen world. Moreover, fly-fishing in the presence of godly men reminds me of the virtue of patience and the power of faith, hope, and love. In fly-fishing, as in life, the greatest of these is love. Love is patient and long-suffering. Love is not rude, or proud. Love does not seek its own way. Love bears up under all difficult things, and continues to believe, and hope and endure, until the end.

Dearest Chuck, you have been our guide, little Mackās and mine, into the mysterious realm of sky, water, insects and trout. But you have taught us something about what it means to love as well. As life goes on, and we travel lifeās rivers large and small, we will carry a part of you within us. We will, of course, remember fun and laughter and fine fishing. But more than that, we will remember the humble, patient, loving soul of one of Godās servants, and that will change us forever.

Your Friend and Brother in Christ,