Friday, May 4, 2012

A Blessed Journey

I’m sure anyone that hung out with Mark while sharing in his passion for fishing can relate to a few of these things.  The journey to the fishing hole was typically a long and arduous ordeal in of itself … and I hope also illustrates a part of the character of Mark that we all loved.

The drive in was never shorter than an hour and always a wonderful intertwining of what bug to start with, what back-up plan to account for muddy water, and what really mattered – how we lived our lives, how we loved our wives, how we could find time again.  It also usually involved consuming a bag of Twizzlers heated up nicely while baking on the dash of the car. 

As soon as we arrived at our destination it was a race to see if I could get my gear together and line rigged before Mark.  I never actually took time to watch him rig up because I’d be hopelessly left behind.   But I could never understand with all the un-organized mess of gear spread throughout the truck how Mark would be ready and waiting for me.  He would end up graciously tying on my final dropper saying something to the effect, “I think this one will be the ticket today Engie.”  It was, of course, an impossibly small bug he whipped up the night before and completely different than the one I foolishly had chosen.

I can’t remember a single fishing outing with Mark that didn’t start with a hike.  We’d never just pull up to a river and step into the water.  There was always a journey to preempt the fishing.  Part of the reason was to simply walk past the holes that see the most fishing pressure but with Mark it was always beyond that point.  It’s like he had to hone into the ebbs and flows of the river before starting.  Mark would almost always be in the lead with the pace of his stride unconstrained by his excitement.  He’d be ever surveying the water surface, peering into the slick water for the flash of a trout’s side or the subtle dimple of a surface strike.  I’d do the same but still catch glimpse (or think I did) of only a third of the fish he’d point out.  We’d often walk up or down river for a few miles before ever wetting the line. 

Mark had an unwavering belief that around the next bend was the premiere fishing hole.  And if it wasn’t, he would commit it to memory as a landmark for next time.  I’ll admit at times my patience would waiver, wanting to just try my luck.  This was one of the many reasons that I was never half the fisherman Mark was.  His patience and endurance were unquenchable.  And Mark would always lead us to a spot that we could both fish while remaining in fellowship the entire time.  I guess that is what I miss most; time spent with Mark was always real.  Not diluted with distractions and not masked with phony chatter.  Time spent with Mark was fellowship.  Beyond friendship; beyond fishing.  It just doesn’t happen enough, particularly for guys, to share in pure fellowship.
Five years ago Mark took the lead in an even more glorious adventure with our Father in  heaven.  Perhaps God realized there was no river on earth long enough to satisfy Mark’s spirit.  In no way can that account for the loss of not having him with us.  But I do look forward to the day when I can again fellowship with Mark in an even more glorious and wonderful place.  Until then I can only be thankful for many lessons I learned from Mark, and the wealth of rich memories of fellowship with him.

No comments: