Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Book of life filled with glee, grief

by CAROL SHIRK KNAPP Contributing Writer
| September 28, 2022 1:00 AM

This is a story about the book of life — glee and grief. I didn't expect to write it this way.

Our local grandson Nate wanted to go on his first fishing trip for his 10th birthday. We arranged with a friend for the use of his boat. We invited Nate's Spokane Valley cousin Isaac — also 10 and a born fisherman. It was an autumn dream day to be on the water at Priest Lake.

I packed a tuna fish sandwich lunch in keeping with the nature of the trip. Their grandpa got them set up — coaching them on how much line to let out. Nothing much happened as we trolled along Twin Island. The boys brought up the Bible story about the fishermen disciples who weren't catching anything until Jesus told them to let down their net on the other side. They must have been heard because right after that Isaac landed a nice bass.

The hunt was on for Nate. Nothing. We reeled in for lunch — but slowly. Terry said they could catch something on the way up. Sure enough — Nate shouts, “I have a fish!” He'd hooked a 15-inch mackinaw. The delight on his face over his first fish lit up the boat and bounced across the water.

Inside myself I was thanking God for this great gift to His child, and imagining His smile. I playfully wondered, “What does a God grin look like.” A quiet voice in my spirit answered, “It's the same one you've got.”

The champion moment came after lunch. Nate let his line out to his grandpa's suggested 410 feet, but wanted to go seven more. Fish on at 417 feet. What a fight it gave! Nate was reeling for dear life — grandpa hanging over the water with the net. Isaac exclaimed, “What a beauty!” as it broke the surface.

Nate had caught a 20-inch cutthroat trout — known for their aggressiveness on the line. The red behind the gills stretched down its length, glistening like a ruby. The prettiest cutthroat Terry had ever seen. Being a protected species it wasn't ours to keep. We captured a photo and released it back to the deep.

The glee of those boys will be forever with me. I expected to ride home with nothing but that. Only we came upon an ugly accident on Highway 57 — and this morning I learned it was a fatality, and the son of a high school classmate, whose own memorial service had taken place just a day earlier. What grief for this family.

And this is the book of life. There is glee and there is grief. God is just as real, just as true, just as faithful through both. Jesus — in His earthly walk — is described as a man of joy and a man of suffering. He's the only one I want in either experience. The only one who can really know how it is, and enter into it with me. Stay for the long haul. Bring resources far beyond my own “copability” and capability.

The accident added a sorrow to the day that hadn't been there. I can only think for this man's family and friends if I asked what God tears look like I would hear Him say, “They look just like yours.”