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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)

TITLE: The Importance of Being Idle
By Martha Ford


I hear the muffled sound of my father dressing, attempting to get away without waking my mother. That’s my cue. I sneak out of the bed I share with my younger sister. An earthquake wouldn’t wake her. Using the moonlight coming through our high windows I find my clothes draped over the chair, looking for all intents and purposes like my sleeping sister’s silent guard. I can be as quiet as a mouse when I need to be. I dress without making a sound.

Daddy’s footsteps are barely audible as he approaches our bedroom door. The signal, just a small crack in the door without a word, and I glide into the hall to join him. Thank goodness for the carpet. A few more steps and we make our escape to the carport. In the car we both begin laughing. We’ve done it again without waking mother, sister or brother. I nearly explode with excitement akin to Christmas morning. Our outings are almost as infrequent as that once a year holiday. But today is going to be better than Christmas, my birthday or any other special day all rolled into one. We’re going fishing! Just the two of us!

Why, you may ask, is my dad taking me, a mere girl, fishing instead of my younger brother? It’s simple. I’m the oldest: my brother is six years younger and therefore a little young for grown-up fishing trips. He’ll get his turn when I’m too old or too busy to go. As for my sister, she’s not the fishing type.

We drive the twenty-odd miles to the river while we munch bacon sandwiches made from leftovers. They taste so much better in the car, going fishing with Daddy. The care smells like Daddy’s old jacket, which smells like the river. My clothes just smell like detergent. Why does Mama wash all the good smells out? Maybe I should wash my own clothes. I’m capable.

It’s just before daylight when Daddy pushes the boat silently into the glassy water. We listen to the awakening morning and save our words until later. The stillness is palpable, allowing me to hear my own heartbeat and his breathing. The air is cool but I am warm, not so much from my jacket but from joy.

He always baits my hook, a fact I’m ashamed of. I just can’t handle live bait. I consider this a failure on my part. He doesn’t. He says it’s an honor to bait my hook. So I let him.

Poles go into the water. We sit quietly so as not to warn the fish, and wait for the first signs of dawn. But today is new and different. Off in the distance, at a bend in the river, I see what looks like a flock of ducks coming in for a landing. Their choreographed descent is so beautiful that I break my silence in order to alert Daddy to the event. He turns to follow my gaze and starts to laugh.

“ What’s so funny?” His laugh is infectious and I can’t help but join him.

“That’s not ducks, Honey. That’s rain beginning to sweep over the river in sheets. God really knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t He?”

I asked, “Why doesn’t rain look like this at our house?”

“Sweetie, this is one reason I like to sit out here, watching and listening. It’s so hard to hear God when we are busy or distracted. I have to be idle to get this close to Him and see His beauty. It would be good for you to practice a little divine idleness.”

We didn’t catch any fish that day. But I got to know both my earthly father and my Heavenly Father a little bit better. I miss fishing with Daddy, but I still practice divine idleness.

Word Count: 650

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This article has been read 955 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/08/07
Very nice--you have a knack for putting the reader right in the moment, enhanced by writing in present tense. A minor slip into past tense toward the end, and watch out of cliched phrases in the first paragraph. This is a very strong entry, and I very much enjoy reading about the father-daughter bond.
Jacquelyn Horne02/09/07
I like this. Good perspective. Good point.
cindy yarger02/11/07
I like that your dad felt it an honor to bait your hook. I remember when my dad baited mine for me! I loved your last line. Good job.
Julie Ruspoli03/10/07
While reading this article, I felt like I was right there. Great lessons on memories and enjoying Gods gifts.
Clyde Blakely03/12/07
I can smell the bacon sandwiches now. Weren't they good? Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm.
Well written. Really liked the "flow". God bless and keep writing.