Friday, November 26, 2010

The Monk and A Fish

"I have put my fingers too much in the running of my own life."

That line comes from the diary of Thomas Merton, the monk, back in November 1947.

Which got me to wondering about that big brown trout swimming just six feet away one summer in the Rush River in Western Wisconsin, ignoring every flycast.

"Could it be this big brown trout reads Merton?"

The small fry trout just across the river were jumping on my line like it was fish candy.

The big brown trout? No way.

That dark blob sat in the same place. For hours. Next to a big rock. Her nose pointed up river. Confident. Waiting for the river to come to her. Occasionally offering a little shimmy, a squiggle. But absolutely no sign that she gave a ripple about the man in the river a few feet away, trying to bring her home for dinner.

This fish becomes more curious the more I read Merton.

This business of my fingers too much in the running of my own life has serious consequence, said the monk then. And turns out the fish in the river says it's so now.

"We seek the good and behold we find disturbance. We say 'Peace! Peace!' and there is not Peace."

Oh my!

This big brown trout is something else. Much better than a pan-fried fish supper one night.

Maybe, this is food for life. From an unlikely guru in the wild.

This fish in the river speaks of small-fry trout becoming big brown trout, living lives of wisdom in the river, as Merton himself lived,

"I put myself in Your hands. I rest in Your wisdom, which has arranged all things for me. I promise to stop jumping out of Your arms to try and walk on my own feet, forgetting that I am no longer on the ground, or near it!"

Merton finished his entry with this,

"Now, at last, let me begin to live by faith..."

The fish finished her day with me this way:


But she fed me the secret every big brown trout knows,

"Hey, man, you need to let the river come to you."


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1 comment:

  1. If you like Merton, you might like a new book out on him by a friend of mine (who I met through my brother Kevin). The book is called Sophia, by Chris Pramuk, a lay Theologian at Xavier (and a fellow Regis grad). I haven't read it but I hear it's quite good. Best, BB