When people talk about Adam walking through the garden naming animals, I think of my father. Not just because he knows every animal, bird, or tree I’ve ever seen. Not because he was unofficially voted “the one person you should want with you if you’re ever lost in the woods,” but because being outdoors recharges him. It’s where he belongs. He revels in Creation. The earth is his sanctuary and being out there is his communion.
I have more memories of fishing with my Dad than doing any other activity. There were entire family vacations built around the rod and reel. Even if it wasn’t the focus of any particular trip, the last thing he would throw in the back of the car was always a pole and a tackle box.
He even went out the morning of my wedding.
This was a concern because he rarely comes back when he says he’s going to. For the record, he did make it to my wedding on time. But I’ve been with him and each fishing trip ends a little like one of those songs that should have ended long before it does. We call it “One Last Cast”. We call it that because that’s what he says.
“One last cast, Chris, and then we’ll go.”
He’d reel that one in and we wouldn’t go anywhere. Instead, he’d turn slightly and cast again. So I’d follow suit; reel it in and cast again. I thought we might be waiting to catch “the big one” and we’d keep fishing for another ten or fifteen minutes.
“One last cast and we can pack it up.”
We would keep casting. Early moments of those fishing trips would be full of father-son conversation, but as each minute passed by there was a little less to say. Maybe, I thought, he just wants to catch one more fish. And because I wanted to be like my Dad, I would keep casting, too. In quiet, we would cast until the sun gently kissed the horizon.
“One last cast and we can pull the anchor.”
This would go on until the sun was gone. In silence, he’d reel in that last, last cast and we’d pack everything up, pull anchor and start up the throaty little Evinrude 25hp. The boat would rise up, fall down and slap the water. I’d hang my hand over the side and drag my fingers through the water. These were sacred moments though I didn’t know why.
I didn’t get it when I was younger. I went fishing because my Dad asked me to go with him. But my Dad was taking me to church and this was a benediction. A benediction to an evening that has come and gone and can never be repeated in the exact same way. It was a eulogy to an evening spent with my father and his Father.
Where is your sanctuary? What is your communion? Your moments with Creation and Creator… where do they take place, and when?
Find them. Make them last. Stretch them out. And don’t rush the benediction.