Fishing bores me to tears. This is heretical in Minnesota and risks ostracization. My defense is that this kid from Nebraska simply came to water and lakes too late to develop any affinity. My spiritual bond with creation is more grounded — planting trees, tending a vegetable garden, composting, walks with Jeb the Dog, the silent symphony of dawn.
Yet, I am not so dry-docked as to be incapable of appreciating a good fishing metaphor. One came from Christopher Pramuk who brilliantly invites us to look at fishing from the perspective of the fish! Maybe fishing doesn’t have to be as boring as it seems.
Imagine the fisher’s lure flashing, dancing, singing in the waters just in front of you, alluring you. Lunging forward, just as you’ve gotten her wholly into your rapacious mouth, just as you think you have gotten her, you discover that it is you who have been gotten. The fisher captures you, your whole self, and will not let you go.
God is like that! God initiates, pursues, allures us. We may think it is otherwise — we are deluded. We may dutifully recite our favorite “prayers” and enact our sacred rites and rituals. But ultimately it is God who ensnares us, it is God who initiates.
Whether fishing or planting, we merely attend — or not — to God’s enticements. It is God, as Pramuk’s fishing metaphor reminds us, who “dances and sings before us, shining from within all things, refusing to be domesticated.”
Perhaps here is the key to my aversion to fishing. Creatures of the deep defy domestication! Fish will always beguile me with their wildness and other-worldliness. Planting, gardening, composting appeal to my need to direct, control and define my world. To the degree this is true, I risk isolation from God. I resist being caught. I remain captive in my own idolatry about who God is and how God is to behave.
Still, God allures — her silent symphony from the deep is beginning to dawn on me.
References may be found in At Play in Creation: Merton’s Awakening to the Feminine Divine by Christopher Pramuk. Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2015., p. 64.