We added a new beach activity to our family’s annual rhythms this year, and I think it’s going to become a favored tradition. A night’s stroll on the pier observing all the people and activities it had to offer yielded a very earnest 5 year-old that just HAD to go fishing! Thanks to my clever brother, cast net fishing in the latter half of the week became a daily beach activity.
On that first day, Andrew bought the net, read the instructions, tapped into his intuition, and after wading out into the water, gave it a first try. And a second. And a third. That net kept coming up empty! After numerous failed attempts, I noticed a guy sidling up to him from several umbrellas down the beach. The rest of our family was out of earshot, but the body language we were watching made it clear that this friendly stranger was coming to show Andrew how to cast the net. Experienced and wise, the man gathered the net in Andrew’s hand a different way, modeled for him the particular stance that would yield a good return, and tossed the net a few times himself. The result? A net filled with minnows that went into overflowing buckets of water to the absolute delight of little ones squealing with simple joy.
The stranger slipped away as Andrew grew in his capacity, and the scores of minnows he was catching now needed more room to swim around in our camp. Quickly, the kids dug deep holes in the wet sand, where the flow of the tides enabled water to refill the holes. Of course there were crises. The holes would fill, but the fish escaped back in the water. (“Quick! The fish, the fish! Get the fish!!”) The tides recessed, and the created pools began to dry up (“Quick! The water, the water! Get more water!!”) With each haul, more kids of all ages would join in the fun: grown men running to and from the ocean with buckets full of water, toddlers giggling as fish swam by, parents like me grabbing their phones to capture scenes of unbridled delight.
It’s an occupational hazard, I guess, but I couldn’t help but to see the reach of Jesus on the beach this year. He was everywhere: in the generous teaching of a skilled fisherman, in the pure celebration of those ‘caught’, in the community that crossed lines and landscapes to unite for common cause. We who like the disciples before us, beckoned to “come and fish for people,” must stay rooted to our Source, our pools daily refilling with Living Water. Each cast may not yield fish — and each moment may not either — but we return again and again to the practice, trusting that transformation comes when we submit to its rhythm. And in all things, we rejoice with Jesus when all (some who are lost, others who are found) are captured and held by God’s nets of grace.
Together in the work of Love,