Anchor Points

On Friday morning, I was on a Zoom call with members of my parish men’s group. We used to meet every other week. We now convene electronically each Friday.

Some of us are crazy-busy. Others, not so much. Many are in-between. We all agreed, however, that this was a Lent we would never forget. In some ways, we around the world are attending a retreat for which we didn’t sign up.

I think it’s hard to establish a regular pattern for the days, at least, for me. I recently bought a road bike, and those rides are an anchor point in each day. It’s very easy to go for long rides, as it’s nice to feel fresh air on my face, and the roads are quite empty. I’m also addicted to exercise.

This Lent, I again gave up alcohol and caffeine. Now that it is Easter, I’ll have a touch of caffeine every now and again, but I’ll continue to abstain from alcohol. I missed the high-octane coffee much more than wine the past few months, and I don’t think I want to drink alcohol during a quarantine. I think it would be too easy for me to tune out when I feel restless in the evenings.

I’ve tried to maintain my fly-fishing outings on Saturdays. It’s hard to explain the peace and joy I feel when I wade into a cold river, or the youthful surprise and delight when I feel a tug at the end of the line. For the most part, I target only wily fish at permanent catch-and-release waters that also feature hardy and shy wild trout.

So, in a time when normalcy is hard to find, those fishing forays serve as another anchor point for me.

I will fish for as long as my body will let me.

I at times see grizzled octogenarians at the rivers. Their eyes may no longer be able to tie on small flies. Their gait may be uncertain, or their hands may shake. But, there they are, still pursuing their passion after many, many decades. Nearly all are kind and gentle, while young anglers with less experience can come across as abrupt and rushed, as they put pressure on themselves to catch a fish.

These older anglers have lived through wars, and many fought in some. They remember the hard times, when economic uncertainty was rife, and nations were in death-grip battles with each other. They have seen much.

These experienced anglers know that catching fish is, in the end, just a small part of fly fishing. It is a means to an end. The purpose is to find solace amidst a chaotic world, to enjoy cold rivers before climate change wreaks even more havoc on an ill planet, and to imagine one’s self again young and strong, when life was perhaps more simple and more complicated at the same time….

Sorry to bear bad news, but I don’t think our world will be normal again until a vaccine comes and is rolled out to the majority of Americans. There are 330 million of us in the U.S. For the past month, I’ve been telling friends and Mrs. T. that “normal” won’t resume for 18 to 24 months (12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine, plus six months to deploy it). I hope I’m wrong, but I think we should be prepared for a marathon.

I’ll close with the video below. It’s a song called “Clean,” and I’ve found it be an anchor point during such an unusual Covid-19 Lent.

A blessed Easter and a chag sameach to all who observe. And, if you don’t, best wishes for a peaceful Sunday….

Leave a Reply