Being the son of a fisherman brings certain elements into ones life. I am pretty sure that the reason I am not a morning person, for instance, is because getting up at 3am to go fishing may have ruined mornings for me. Fishing is, and this is my definition, an outdoors activity where one uses tools to actively wonder about the existence of certain underwater creatures.
My father made it look so easy, much like Jesus with Peter (take it easy, Dad, don’t let it go to your head.) The metaphor fails because no matter how many times I tried, intentionally or otherwise, I never managed to walk on water. However I have managed to excel in the whole sinking aspect.
Frequently, I would cast and on the backswing (is that even the right word?) my lure or hook would get caught on some part of the boat or my clothing and cause all sort of physical or psychological damage. When I did manage to get whatever was at the end of the line out into the water, many times I would reel it back in and find it all tangled together. Or I might set the fishing rod down while I grabbed a snack or took a moment to contemplate the meaning of the universe and when I picked it back up, things seemed to have wrapped themselves mysteriously into a mass of fiberglass and monofilament chaos.
I always managed to make knots of things. Knots that my father would patiently untie.
I would try to untie things, but I rarely succeeded. Usually my efforts just made things worse. The knots got tighter or I would damage the line by pulling it too thin or crimping it and we’d have to cut it and start over. Dad, however, always seemed to be able to work out the loops and the clumps and hand everything back to me.
I’ve grown since then. Not so much in my fishing ability or in my luck, but in some other ways. My son brought me his sneaker the other day and the laces were a holy mess. It took about ten minutes, but I got through it and gave him the shoe back. He said “Thanks, Dad” and life went on.
I’m pretty good with other people’s knots. Maybe that’s a lesson I learned from Dad in the wee hours of those mornings where Schrodinger’s fish may or may not have been swimming beneath the boat. I can identify when others pull too tight or in the wrong ways. I’m often able to help them work things out slowly and intentionally without running for scissors.
Honestly, I still struggle with my own knots. I still manage to make messes in between the good casts. I still make knots out of things. I still pull too hard or I still give up too early. I still cause damage or I still settle for the mess. I still take it into my hands and that rarely goes very well.
In the simple action of handing me a sneaker, Andrew reminded me that there are some knots that need to be untied by someone else. I still need to hand it to my Father and let Him do the work that He has done since the beginning of time.
Father, thank you for our knots. Teach us to see them and be honest about them. Thank you for your patience with my knots and with me. Continue, God, to untie me and the knots of my life.