It had been well over a decade since Carter had fished the pond behind his family’s farmhouse. He wouldn’t allow himself to admit that his neglect of fishing dated back to the year his father passed away. No, it had to be that he was just too busy. Who has time for leisure activities when you are on the fast track to corporate success?
The truth was, until that foggy June morning, Carter hadn’t so much as glanced at the pond since he moved back into the family home following his father’s death. But that particular day, as he marched briskly out of the house in his perfectly starched navy blue suit, briefcase in hand, the pond caught his eye. Well, it wasn’t the pond that caught his eye as much as the young boy sitting by it.
Carter paused from his daily trek to the car and squinted toward the muddy banks. The boy looked to be early elementary school age, not that Carter was all that great at judging the ages of children, having none of his own. From where he stood, he could only see the worn cut-off jean shorts, what looked like a ratty plaid button-down, and an oversized ball cap perched above a tuft of unruly brown hair that came nearly to the boy’s shoulders. A thin strand of fishing line angled from the boy into the water, glistening in the sun as the light morning breeze caught it.
Carter wasn’t sure what exactly bothered him about seeing that boy on the muddy bank of the pond. After all, it wasn’t like Carter ever fished there, or did anything there for that matter. He should welcome the thought of someone actually putting it to good use.
On the other hand, it seemed to Carter that parents just didn’t teach their kids to respect the property of others these days. He resolved to go talk to the boy.
“What are you doing here?” The boy jumped as Carter’s voice broke the stillness. He looked up sheepishly as the man approached.
“I’m fishing, sir,” the boy said with a slight tremor in his voice.
“You know this is private property, don’t you?”
Carter was a bit taken aback that his stern question had not prompted the boy to move.
“What makes you think you can just walk right up here and fish my pond?” Carter tried to keep a stern tone.
The boy looked reluctant to answer. He glanced back at the makeshift fishing pole fashioned out of a rogue tree branch.
“Well, sir. You see, my pa lost his job and my mama is real sick.”
“And that’s why you’re here fishing?” Carter softened his tone, but still sounded skeptical.
“My mama once told me that Jesus can make many fish from just a few. So I was thinking maybe I could catch a few and then Jesus would make it enough for us to eat.”
Carter felt a look come over his own face, partly amused and entirely puzzled. How long had it been since he had faith like that, he wondered.
“What are you using for bait?” Carter asked.
The boy pulled his line up to reveal a partially nibbled worm tied at the bottom.
“Well that won’t do.” Carter shrugged out of his suit jacket and set it gently on the grass. He walked over to the nearby pier and pulled a metal box from under it. Right where his father had left it. He unlatched the box with a small creak and produced a hook and a bobbin.
Sitting down on the bank next to the boy, he tied the hook and bobbin onto the line and baited it with a fresh worm.
“That should do.” Carter handed the boy the stick, which the boy promptly cast into the water with a familiar deep “plunk”.
Not five minutes later, the bobbin dipped beneath the water’s surface as the line tugged. The boy jumped up and gave the line a good yank. Out of the water splashed the biggest largemouth bass Carter had ever seen.
They caught seven fish that day. Carter helped the boy carry his treasured catch back to his house, and as he was walking away, he heard a thin, wavering voice say from inside the small shack, “Oh son, Jesus did answer you prayers and multiply the fish you caught.”
“Nope, mom. But He did send an angel to help me catch more.”
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