Fly Fishing and the Spiritual Life

Last week I learned to fly fish on Hermosa Creek in southwest Colorado and the experience has me thinking about the lessons of fly fishing that also apply to the spiritual life.  Here is some of what I’ve learned.  I’ll let you make your own inferences.

Lines get tangled.

Patience often provides enough space and focus to untangle them.

But sometimes an intervention is needed.

The best results are often found in deep water.

It’s fun to catch.  It can be even more fun to release.

If you snap the line too hard, it costs you $2.85.

The lure is no good if it’s too big for the trout to eat.

Fish and fishermen have to face upstream.

Great equipment is nice to have, but if you don’t know how to use it or you overreach, great equipment won’t do you any good at all.

Keep your old, beat-up flies in your hat to remember where you’ve been.

Don’t waste time in empty water.

Sometimes you have to get on your knees.

Other times you have to climb mountains.

Be prepared to wade in the water.

Fish with someone you love.  You will spend some time on your own — otherwise your lines will get tangled up with one another, or one of you will fish and the other one will watch.  But it’s always more rewarding to share the journey.


About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.