A Time to Speak — A view from the pew

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.

If you have a story you would like to submit for, “A View from the Pew,” contact Sal Della Bella at sdb@archlou.org or 585-3291.

3 Comments

  • william miller says:

    sorry if this is the wrong venue for my comment, but i have concerns about the catholic churches policies regarding weddings, where one party is non catholic and the other is catholic.. My niece is catholic, masters degree, entering her first marriage this june.(substantial personal income from her and her soon to be husband) she has been given so many road blocks just to get married in the catholic church i wouldn’t be surprised if she, her husband to be, and their future children, completely walk away from the catholic church all together. she not only is my niece but my god daughter i myself was an alter boy till i along with my older brother was 18 serving mass with a wonderful old school priest. my niece also raised catholic, first communion, confirmation, confession, all the sacraments she needed up to her marriage..Catholic grade school and high school as well. wow thats a lot of financial support including tithing from her parents an both large catholic family ties to the catholic church. in my day other religions we’re not recognized, weddings not acknowledged, non catholic s became catholic to marry into the catholic church, or he or she would not take communion both had to take catholic marriage classes etc. just to give some back ground on my issues. she has been told by a catholic priest that her husband to be needed to have his previous protestant marriage just 4 months before her wedding. number one not enough time, number two brings up issues with his ex-wife who he divorced civilly 8 years ago, bringing up old wounds because he would have to contact his ex-wife asking her to sign papers saying their wedding never took place, plus hurting his daughter from his first marriage too. If they civilly divorced legally and not in the catholic church why do church officials care about protestant churches marriages?? they were never acknowledged in my day. my god daughter is getting married at a non denominational church and having a civil service that will be recognized world wide as legally married. also, after my god daughter/niece got her masters degree she joined the catholic church her father was buried from, which was the church he was also baptized from and received all his sacraments as well. her hopes was to be married there and send her future children there for a catholic education. what do you think the odds of that are happening now??? all that income the catholic church just threw away.

  • Sue Brodfehrer says:

    Dear Mr. Miller,
    After reading your comments, I was struck by your sincere feelings of hurt and disappointment with our church regarding your niece and Goddaughter’s upcoming wedding. Your love for her is obvious. If you wish, I invite you to contact me so we can talk about your concerns.

    • william miller says:

      i appreciate your interest Ms. Brodfeher, i am not sure your opinions or input can sway my concerns, I think catholic marriages should be encouraged. I feel the couple should be able to provide the priest with their civil divorce decrees, accept them as law binding, as the rest of the world does. Then proceed with the premarital class or instructions whatever is required for the new couple.They should be able not only civilly married but married in the church. Sometimes simplicity is best. Why bring up a couples past. We should all be supportive of the new couple and celebrating thier new life, wishing them many years of happiness,

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