Monday, November 10, 2008


Work is a persistent fellow with no real regard for the needs of a tired soul. For the last thirteen months, I have worked at a computer and taken no days off that were not days spent working or traveling in some capacity. That is until today. As Nashville awoke to find its first frost this morning, I find myself in Portland Brew, a Monday ritual I practiced every week prior to taking my position at Griffin. I have missed this time. Most of my reading and blogging occurred during my Monday coffee (you can read back on the earlier years of this blog and note all the entries posted on Mondays), and it only seems fitting to write a bit this morning.

One of the reasons my soul is tired is the absence of the natural side of creation in my day to day life. The office has my back to our only window and in this post-daylight savings, it is dark more than an hour before I ever leave the office. I experience God in the falling and crunching of leaves, the running of rivers, and the setting of suns, the stench of dirt, and the chill of cold. Autumn is often a spiritual experience for me as God is reminding me that while summer’s fruits die off for a season, the soul awakes, hungers, and grows ever still. I miss this more than I miss my Monday coffee.

About an hour northeast of my parent’s home is a river called the Hiwassee. Winding down out of the Smokey Mountains towards the Tennessee, the Hiwassee has more in common with its western counterparts than most rivers in this state. It is wide and shallow with water so clear you could photograph the river bottom. Amidst the contoured rock, chutes, and tall grass Sandhill Cranes spread their wings and Rainbow Trout hide unless lured out by the chance of a meal. For years, my dad and I have waded these waters in pursuit of the trout, sometimes fruitlessly, but mostly successfully. The river lacks the management a great trout stream requires as the Tennessee Valley Authority has a vested interest in power production, not fishing, but for this part of the country, it is as good as any river gets.

Yesterday I donned my waders and boots and assembled my rod like an infantryman might his rifle. An artificial fly is a work of art, as is the knot that connects it to my line. Fly-fishing as a whole is an art form worthy and demanding of discipline in technique, patience, and love of the water. There is nothing quite like fishing from the middle of a river rather than the bank, pulling your fish in to you, only to release it in the water running between and around your legs. Today the water is shallow, no more than knee deep, and this means the fish are timid. For much of the afternoon, I work my line across the deeper runs in the river to no avail. The light gets ever lower and the hardwood-covered hills burn with the colors of autumn. The sun glares on the water, running wide and winding out of view. I don’t care about catching fish as today is all about remembering the creation I so seldom see. This time is worshipful; I am grateful for it.

Eventually the river yields two small Rainbows from the same hole, and the magic fly I tied on snags and breaks off on the river bottom. I catch no more fish and the sun sets, forcing us off the river in the last traces of light. As my dad and I twist out of the hills towards home, I feel rest in a way I’ve not felt in months. I pray this peace continue through the rest of this week’s vacation, and I thank God for the reminder that no dam can reduce a river’s majesty, and no office can confine nature’s glory. Cheers!


Libby Nunnelee said...

Whit, I always enjoy reading your blog. You write beautifully! This one was especially wonderful. I'm glad you have gotten some rest and a chance to be outdoors. Now, please consider writing a book. I'd be first in line to buy it.

Stephanie said...

I feel the kind of "rest" you describe when I sit here in the house or on the porch and watch the water - it's a spiritual thing for me - revives me - calms me - everyone needs that time - but few look for it.

Shurson said...

I miss the fall in Tennessee, Dallas is ugly as can be. I always enjoy the blog, but would like more frequent posts.