I hadn’t fished the stream in 25 years or more. I found myself returning to it when the numbness that resulted from the weekend news transformed into anger, sympathy and sadness. Maybe my visit to the stream was due to something in the name, Phoenix Run. I’ve always had an interest in names, especially with regard to geographical features.
The feelings arose from more than just the news from Paris, as horrific as that was. My rickety plate of mindfulness was also set ajar by tragedies of similar degree in other parts of the world, from places farther from the care of social media and western consciousness.
“They’ll be bombing us here before we know it,” said a store clerk in Anytown, USA. “A Christian would never do what they just did.”
Oh, really now, responded the watery form of Phoenix Run (assuming that I could project my voice into an unassuming creek).
First of all, let’s terrify the public, Mr. Bigwhig. That way, it will listen carefully while you beat the drums of war. And secondly, Mr. and Mrs. UberClerk, you might be right about the bombing, or you might be wrong. When you say, a Christian wouldn’t do what has been done, I’ll agree with you that a good one wouldn’t do it, but you should read a little history (think Crusades or the conquest of native cultures), or stop trying to sound completely stupid.
No, the wild stream I went fishing in didn’t spit in the face of idiocy and evil. In fact, it took no sides at all. It favored no religion or political agenda, no one theory or belief. The stream was simply there. Cold and flowing bank to bank, clear and tumbling toward the distant bay.
It was there to embrace me if I wanted it to care. It was there to reject me if I got in its way. It was always changing with the face of beauty. It ignored my weaknesses and absence. It was wild, and still produced nice trout on a beadhead nymph.
The stream comforted and lightened the load and reinforced my care. To stand in its waters was like hearing of the guy who towed a grand piano with a bicycle to the site of Paris death and mayhem. The musician couldn’t raise the dead or heal the injured, but his playing helped to soothe the pain a bit.
Casting in its waters was like reading Teanderthal’s analogy on Facebook:
“Blaming all Muslims for the terrorists is like blaming all musicians for Ted Nugent.”
Even better, because the only sides taken by a trout stream are its earthen banks, and the call of distant shores.
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P.S., If you’re feeling musically adventurous, you might give a listen to “Ashes are Burning,” by Renaissance. I think of the song when I think of the stream’s name, Phoenix Run. I’m moderately intrigued by Annie Haslam’s critically acclaimed voice, but for me the song gets really interesting at about 7:18. A minute later, the solo by Wishbone Ash guitarist, Andy Powell, takes the piece to its haunting conclusion and always seems to burn the shirt right off my back.