As co-host for the Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville, I am sometimes asked about peace and how we ever hope to achieve it. When I contemplate this question, I think of a lesson taught to me by my son, Lincoln.
Lincoln just loves to fish. When we fish, we have a rule that it is a good day if we catch a fish or if we find some treasure, such as a lost bit of tackle, a turtle shell or something else that young boys covet. On this day in 2008, we were trying out Lincoln’s first stick bobber, and he loved it.
We were fishing in a lake near our home in a shaded area where a small bush-like tree hung over the water. Lincoln noticed another stick bobber stuck in the tree and asked me to retrieve it. I explained that it was out of reach, and I didn’t have the tools for the job. Lincoln accepted this. At least it seemed that way at first.
A few minutes later, Lincoln told me that his hook was stuck, and I saw that Lincoln’s new bobber and his hook were tangled with the lost bobber stuck in the tree. I looked at him, and he gave me a sheepish grin. “Lincoln, were you trying to hook the bobber with your line?” No answer.
Well, now I had no choice. I grabbed the line and pulled on the tree branch fully expecting Lincoln’s line to break and his bobber to be lost in the tree too. But something of a miracle happened, and I was able to pull both the lost bobber and Lincoln’s line within reach. Then, I broke the branches, and we recovered Lincoln’s line and the lost bobber.
Lincoln smiled and said, “I told you so.” I was about to deliver an adult lecture but stopped. Lincoln now had a new stick bobber, a sinker, and a new hook already tied. It was a great find that he received because he was fully willing to risk his treasured bobber.
The more I think about this incident the more I think Lincoln taught me a lesson that I am thankful I didn’t drown out with an adult lecture.
First, Lincoln showed me how we “get hooked.” It was interesting that he didn’t hook his prize—it actually hooked his line. Having walked this path for the past six years, I am amazed at how I expect to be the one giving, but usually end up getting hooked and in the process, receiving more than I give. I also was reminded that this whole process is not clean; it is messy. My boys and I notice how our poles never make it from home to the pond without getting tangled. It is the same with people. When we are close, we have a way of getting tangled up in each other’s lives. It is a wonderful mystery.
Lincoln showed me that you don’t have to wait for the right tools for the job. Use what you have at hand. Take a chance. Risk losing what you love by casting your line right at your prize. Then, when you get tangled up with the prize and you can’t get it out—ask for help and bring in others. Let them pull the prize to you and share the victory with you. This is love. We are one body.
Finally, Lincoln showed me his faith. He knew that it would be all right because he was with his father. It is an utter mystery, but I know that I embody a deep sense of security for him. Lincoln knows the love I have for him. That gives Lincoln faith that everything will be OK.
As peacemakers, we are children of God, trusting in God’s everlasting love. Thus, I know that it is OK to see the prize, get tangled up with what I see, ask others to help me pull it to shore and then rejoice with what we catch together with God’s help.
Tom Williams is a member of Holy Trinity Church and the co-host for the Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville.
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