(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 16 February 2017)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
My father was always taking us fishing. We had a few rusty poles, a chipped tackle box filled with a mix of fresh and saltwater lures (selected by my brothers based not on function but on appearance), and extra line that was never NOT tangled. We’d have to stop on the way down to where ever we were headed (the breach-way in Charlestown, or the rocks at East Matunuck, or across the channel on the docks at Galilee) and procure our bait. For this, my father selected sea worms, which always reminded me of the creatures in Kevin Bacon’s cult classic film, Tremors. My brothers and I were hesitant to bait our own hooks with the worms so by the end of the morning my father would often find his hands caked in crusty worm.
We would spend hours trading poles and switching spots while my dad helped us perfect our casting. He’d tell us stories of fishing during his childhood with his own father on Stump Pond in Smithfield. We’d snack on the donuts we’d never tell our mother we’d eaten. And we’d never catch any fish.
Once, my brother Patrick got a bite and struggled to reel it in. He handed it off to my father and we all cheered for what we anticipated would be a striped bass or bluefish. But what emerged terrified us. “No, dad, cut the line.” “Dad don’t touch it!” we all shrieked. “That’s a sting ray! It’ll kill you!” My dad feigned terror and then burst out laughing. It was only a harmless skate.
Another time, while on the docks off Galilee, I felt something on the end of my line. I couldn’t believe how heavy it was and, with a mix of trepidation and incautious triumph, yelled to my father, “Dad! I got something! I really do!” My brothers dropped their lines and ran over with my father who assisted me in reeling in my catch. On the end of the line, a giant tangled mess of rocks and seaweed emerged from the water. As it landed with a thud at our feet, out darted literally hundreds of crabs of all shapes and sizes that scurried in every direction on the dock. We kids ran screaming and my father, as he always did, just stood there laughing.
My father taught me more lessons in life that I’m sure I even realize at this point. From our fishing expeditions alone, I could tangle out at least five things my father taught me, but let me share with you just one.
Those times we caught the skate and the seaweed crab bomb, my brothers and I all freaked out while my father laughed. And my dad could laugh because he wasn’t out there to catch fish. He was out there to go fishing.
For my dad, it was about the experience, the time spent, the memories made. And while we didn’t realize it at the time, going fishing could have been replaced with a number of other activities and my father would have been just as happy. He always got what he was looking for – time with his kids.
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, guide us through life’s disappointments and teach us that sometimes it’s okay to smile at defeat if we can see the bigger picture. Help us to recognize the love that surrounds us in our families and friends. Help us to slow down in life and focus on the moments and not the mementos. And bring us always closer to understanding the lessons you, our Father, teach us every day through your love.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us
Live Jesus in our Hearts…forever.
Emily McLean–English Teacher