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The Good Lord and the outdoors

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POSTED December 19, 2011 12:16 a.m.

In 1964 Robert Traver, author of the classic book and movie Anatomy of a Murder, wrote a delightful book, Anatomy of a Fisherman in which appeared:

Testament of a Fisherman

I fish because I love to, because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful and because I hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly, because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing. I thus escape, because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and a small act of rebellion: because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience, because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip: because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters, because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup tastes better out there; because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid; and: finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant – and not nearly so much fun.

In my decades astream and afield, I have regularly come across what I believe to be the handiwork of an omnipotent God. If you have ever gazed upon the sunlight as it illuminates El Capitan or Half dome at dusk, you’ll have seen a little glimpse of what I mean. Almost everywhere I go outdoors, there is amazing beauty that I believe cannot be simply some sort of giant cosmic accident.

Once on a dreary foggy winter day, I was tired of staring into a cold wet fog, and decided to try to climb above the fog and gaze upon some much needed sunshine. I headed into the coastal hills between California’s great Central Valley and the sea. I climbed higher and higher into the fog-shrouded hills until finally I reached a ridge top and the sun broke through. Looking East, I saw below me a brilliant white blank of cotton ball clouds that completely covered the entire valley. Directly across the sea white arose the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains and I found myself looking directly into Yosemite Valley over 50 miles away. Standing watch over it all was Half Dome, a silver sentinel bathed in the afternoon sunlight. For some reason the words of the Marine Corps Hymn popped to mind and I knew I was indeed looking upon Heaven’s Scene.

Time after time, I have beheld beauty so amazing it literally takes my breath away. From a giant panorama to the blossom of a single flower, from a picture- perfect rising trout, and from mists of a thundering waterfall to the rhythmic rustle of wind through the trees, there are constant reminders of how small and insignificant I am, compared to the endless beauty and diversity of nature. The words to the song “Taps” come to mind: Safely Rest. God is Nigh.

Get out there in God’s amazing outdoors and see for yourself.

Until Next Week,
Tight Lines

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