What is Truth? Part II

Or, “The Perfect Cast”

For those who are not fly fishing enthusiasts, I hope to make this relevant.

mt33IMG_4210The Awakened Enthusiast has carefully made his way up the wrong side of the river. Wrong because it required backhanded casting across his body, tough to master. Extra diligence required to maintain “line management.”

The first thing the Enthusiast learned was line management. Everything from how to keep the line from
getting tangled in his shoelaces,
fouled in the weeds,
knotted around itself,
wrapped around the rod, or
balled up like a bird’s nest in the reel;
keeping the fly from hooking in his butt,
casting the fly to land like a weightless insect,
getting the slack out of the line quickly (“stripping”), and
managing the fly to float sweetly on the surface with the exact velocity of the current, wings up.

These skills take decades to master and constant attention.

So, having cautiously waded waist deep next to the bank, managed the line with every move and every cast, strained against the current, not stumbled over the boulders and logs under the surface, and avoided rattlesnakes on the bank, the Enthusiast hears a thrash, and looking up, he sees the swirl. Big fish.

Everything now focused on the spot.
Another swirl. This time no splash. Just the whirlpool.
He pauses.
Takes a deep breath.
Gathers himself.
Breathes slowly and fully.
Releases the tension in his shoulders.

He becomes present again, again. Can he make the cast under the tree? Is 2 ft. from limb to water enough room? He looks behind. Can he keep the back cast out of the bulrushes? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Another deep breath. He feels the breeze, smells the pines, leans into the current, pays special attention to the ripple and foam line where the lunker is feeding. He leans into the moment. Blissful. There’s no reflecting. That comes later. Now there’s just pure Presence. His every faculty focused and Present. It’s just so.

Is the fly dry? He inspects it, blows to air dry it, and decides to powder it again. Tugs the tippet to be sure it’s strong. It breaks. That’s ok. He ties on new tippet and reties the fly. He tugs again. It holds strong.

He begins to let the line out, making a few false casts to regain rhythm. Breathing deep, immersed in the moment, he’ll first fish the edge of the branches before going for the lunker tucked back under the tree.

Working the water up to the branch line, he casts just short of the branches. Good cast. Better short than in the tree. No action.

Another cast. This time it lands in the over hanging limb. He pauses, twitches the line, hoping the fly will drop. It doesn’t. If it’s hooked in the branches, this adventure is over. He twitches the line again. The fly drops. He smiles, works the cast. No action.

Back under the tree, another splashy whirlpool as the lunker sucks down a bug.

At some point he has to get the fly all the way back under the branches, next to the bank where the lunker is. This fish isn’t coming to him.

Long pause again …
Deep breaths.
He relaxes.
Releases the tension.
Savors the moment.
He’s fully present. All his faculties focused. None of this he “thinks;” he just does it.
Pure awareness.

Time to stop measuring and go for it. This is it. He makes one false cast for rhythm. Remember, he’s casting against his body, backhanded. A quick, abrupt, firm back cast, tight loop, and he lets her go. The fly ducks under the over hanging limbs and lands softly. Exactly above the last swirl. 3 ft. above so it floats down to the lunker. Perfect cast. Quickly he strips the line. An explosion! She attacks it. He sets the hook, but he hadn’t finished stripping. Too much slack in the line. He misses her. She’s gone. Game over.

Now what?

For centuries the Christian tradition has called this “The Sacrament of the Present Moment.”
Eckert Tolle calls it “The Power of Now.”
I like calling it “Eternal Life Right Here Right Now.” Or “Ordinary Life Extraordinarily Lived.”

What’s the Awakened Enthusiast’s response to missing the lunker? “Yes!” he yells with gusto. “Yes, yes, yes!”

“Wait a minute. You mean not ‘damn!’ Not ‘#@&%!’”

Exactly! That’s exactly what I mean.

“Why? How? He messed up. He lost the fish. How can you say ‘Yes!’?”

Because the Enthusiast knows he had a fully alive moment.

A fully alive moment

All of his skill, all of his faculties, all of his energy was entirely focused on that moment. Even retying the tippet and fly. Everything was focused on that moment. That, the Awakened Enthusiast knows, is Joy. Pure Joy. He was fully alive in that moment. The feeling state of Joy. Pure awareness. And that, I suggest, just might be Truth.

What Truth?
How is that so?”

More on this in the next post. Let’s return to the Enthusiast.

So what does he do next? He celebrates the moment. He pauses. Breathes deeply. Smells the air. Feels the wind. Takes in Beauty. Everywhere Beauty. Effuses gratitude with every breath, every heartbeat, every cell. Shakes his head with a wry smile, tipping his hat to the fish. Sips his water bottle. Checks his fly and tippet. And starts up the bank leaning into the current for the next adventure. As his legs slowly press through the current he feels the rocks and boulders and branches on the bottom. The wind cools his face. The air smells of dirt and grass and trees, a faint hint of orange blossoms. Color everywhere.  … Joy.

trimmod2IMG_3627Please don’t forget to engage the story (= tell God your response to the story and listen for God’s response to you). [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for readying and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

Grace and Peace,


More to come … Stay tuned for Part III of “What is Truth?”

About jclark

The Rev. Jim Clark is the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.


  1. Kathleen Rile says:

    Jim, I heard one thing loud and clear last Sunday when you said we are” infused with eternal life” as the Holy Spirit indwells in us. I will never forget the words and imagery ! Kathi

  2. Connie Weatherup says:

    Oh! the beauty of this moment! Almost makes me want to take up fly fishing! Connie Weatherup

  3. Penny Corey says:

    I experienced the same kind of joy after a family dinner to welcome home a member who had been away for several months. Good food,good company and lots of laughter. What a treat to be together again! It was very special and I savored the moment. Penny Corey

  4. Elizabeth Garas says:

    (What drew me into this story were the phrases “living in the moment” and “yes, yes, yes”.) In pondering this “living in the moment” experience, I was reminded of our recent holiday visitors…relatives, with two delightful children aged 6 and 81/2 (with whom I was totally entranced). While waiting in a restaurant for dinner one evening, the 6 year old boy invited me to engage in a game with him, asking me to close my eyes and then guess what color crayon he was holding up.

    Delighted to participate, I closed my eyes tightly and recited the colors one by one, as he would ask “what color?”. Each time I would name the color he would exclaim “yes!”, “yes!”, “yes”, each time expressing excitement, surprise, and joy! (A fully alive moment)!

    This precious little soul offered me “The Sacrament of The Present Moment”, or “Ordinary Life Extraordinarily Lived” as we shared the experience of being “in the zone”, as my golfing and musician friends might say, or “being in the flow of time” as my husband calls it. Oh, and by the way, all of this took place after this same little one had knocked his water glass over on the table. And that was good as well :).

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