After months of planning, I am leaving to go fishing with my three friends Larry, Tom and John. I am all checked in, through TSA and at the gate. Now I am faced with getting in that aluminum tube and climbing up to 30,000 + feet.
The flight to Seattle is very smooth, pleasant, and uneventful. I met Larry in Seattle and decided to check the weather between Seattle and Sitka. Big mistake! The screen on my phone looked like a death star of foul weather. As I pondered my anxiety and sweaty palms I reflected on the book study of Emotional Healthy Spirituality. Am I behaving as an emotionally healthy spiritual man? Is it rational behavior to be this anxious? No, it is not okay to be this consumed by anxiety.
After some prayer and deep breathing it became tolerable to get in that airplane and start closing the distance on the last leg of the adventure. I won’t say the flight was enjoyable, but Alaska Airlines flies this route every day. So far nothing has fallen off the plane!
I reflected – in this profound fear is there an invitation? Soon we started our final approach to Sitka. Out the window appeared “The Peaks”. This year “The Peaks” are covered in snow – truly a beautiful sight. Last year there was no snow – just rocky peaks.
There was my answer – I am being asked to change. Larry and I went to a new restaurant in town offering Italian fare. In Sitka? The food was fabulous!!! We struck up a conversation with the staff and found them to be extraordinarily interesting. The four were culinary students from the University of Jamaica. Jamaica to Sitka, Alaska? Now that’s change.
Our first day salmon fishing was on the Nakwasina River about a one hour boat ride – inaccessible any other way. It wasn’t long before a distinct change was obvious. A year ago the tidal flat was full of bald eagles and sea gulls. This year there were few. After walking upstream it became obvious why there were fewer birds. There were no dead salmon carcasses in the river.
Last year as part of the river’s life cycle, there were miles of river carpeted with dead salmon. This year was more telling. I only saw one – yes one dead salmon. Since the fish were not as abundant, neither were the bears. Last year 13. This year two. Even though the bears are big and can be dangerous, if you are not a salmon you are safe. What an amazing change!
The recent storms had redirected the river channels. Big alder trees had backed up the river and stacked new trees on top of old trees. This was an area of deep wonderment. The river looked the same but was it? It too had changed perhaps hundreds if not thousands of times. I recall one big tree poking half of itself out of the water. How long had it been there? Was Jesus on earth when it came to rest in its present place? So many changes on this stretch of river!
We had what fisherman call a Honey Hole – a section of river where silver salmon congregate. Our pool had hundreds of silvers in it. Another wonderment or change – how long have silvers been spawning on this river?
It’s now time to head home from our adventure. Our flight was delayed two hours. As we sat in the airport cafe the weather is getting worse – pouring rain and 40 mph gusts. I look out the window at the rain and wind and thought this flight is going to be okay.
I am changing. Gratefully, only Christ remains the same.
P.S. Please pray for my friend Tom. He has cancer.