When I was a kid I loved to fish. Then life happened. I became preoccupied with many other things. By becoming consumed in church work I thought I was doing God’s work and didn’t have time for such trivial matters like fishing.
Last year I came to a point where my passion for things “religious” had fizzled and I was all dried up. Then a church member took me bass fishing and I fell in love with a first love all over again. It has given me new life. The night before I’m headed to the lake I’m like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I am doing something I love to do just for the love of doing it. I have never been more alive. When I’m making the hour and fifteen minute drive to the beautiful lake where I kayak fish for largemouth bass, I am thanking God much of the way for simply having the opportunity to do something I truly love to do. I believe it is making me a better person.
I recently posted this on my Facebook page:
I am KISSING PARTISAN POLITICAL POSTS GOODBYE. I have made a decision to go on an indefinite fast from writing or posting any piece that names political parties or persons. I will still post on issues of justice, but I will stick strictly to the issues. I can see myself writing a piece such as, “Why mass, indiscriminate deportation is morally wrong” but I would not mention any political party or persons. This election cycle will be filled with lots of name calling and ugliness. As a Jesus follower my first priority must be to love inclusively, especially those I may disagree with politically and on issues of restorative justice. WHAT ULTIMATELY MATTERS IS HOW WELL WE LOVE.
I believe that this fresh sense of “aliveness” has increased my capacity to love. I guess time will tell.
I am part of an online kayak fishing community (Kentucky Kayak Anglers) where religiously and politically we are as different as night and day. Of course, we don’t talk religion or politics–we talk fishing. And I can honestly say that I love those folks. At least as much as one can love those one relates to online. We share a common passion that reminds me that we share a common humanity. We all hurt, suffer, and grieve over the tragedies of life. We all find in life joy and delight as well, certainly when we are on our kayaks on a lake, river, or creek trying to catch whatever it is we try to catch. It reminds me that however different we are, we must find ways to work toward some common good and a better world. We must find ways to love and care for one another as best we can.
My point here is that spirituality cannot be safely labeled and compartmentalized into things “religious.” Everything about us is spiritual. Brother David Steindl-Rast says that spirituality means “a heightened aliveness on all levels.” He says, “If we encourage people to be more alive–to find the area of their enthusiasm and feed that area then they may gain in vitality and then be able to take in stride the pain and suffering that’s part of life.” I believe that to be true.
Bass fishing has given me a new enthusiasm for life, and a new enthusiasm to love more inclusively and passionately.
Chuck Queen is a Baptist minister and the author of several books on progressive Christian faith, including his most recent, Being a Progressive Christian (is not) for Dummies (nor for know-it-alls): An Evolution of Faith. Chuck blogs at A Fresh Perspective, has contributed to the blog Faith Forward and is a monthly columnist for Baptist News Global.