Monday October 1 2018

130801-dailydevovisuals

Scripture: Luke 5:1-11

Key verse: (4) “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

Reflection: “Let’s go fishing,” says Jesus to the exhausted fishermen who have just finished cleaning their nets from a night where they’ve caught nothing, which means they have nothing to sell, which means they and their families will likely have nothing to eat that day.  Not only does he ask to go fishing, he says, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  This isn’t any old fishing expedition, this is in the deep water, deep-sea fishing, way out in a place it takes work to get to, to lower freshly cleaned nets into waters that yielded nothing for an entire night.  Why must we go into the deep water?

Where is deep water for you?  Where is the place you’ve been before, the place it takes work to get to, the place you’ve tried everything before with nothing working?  Deep water may be the undercurrent in a relationship you know is there but you’re afraid to address because you’ve brought it up before and it didn’t get anywhere.  Deep water may be the place you’ve stuck your toe in at the therapist’s office, the place you’ve dropped your nets, but pulled them in to no avail.  It may be a grief too deep to be healed.  It may be a darkness too bleak to peer into.  “Go out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch,” says Jesus to those fishermen.  Why?  Because that’s where the fish are.

In her poem, “In Blackwater Woods,” Mary Oliver describes deep water this way: “Every year everything I have ever learned in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation, whose meaning none of us will ever know.”  Such is deep water.  “Put out into the deep water,” says the Lord, “and let down your nets for a catch.”  In the deep water they catch so many fish the nets are about to break; so many fish the boats are about to sink; so many fish that Simon must call to his friends, James and John to come out and help him for the abundance of fish threatens his very life.

New Testament scholar Dylan Breuer says of this moment in the text that the nagging worry of the everyday question, “Will we catch enough fish today to survive?” is replaced by a far more urgent question. “Can we gather enough people to take in this abundance such that it doesn’t swamp the boat?”   That’s a profound shift. Such shifts can only happen in deep water.   It leads to an even greater shift.  Luke tells us, “When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”

That poem by Mary Oliver speaks of the letting go that comes on the other side of deep water, “the black river of loss whose other side is salvation.”  The poem concludes: “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” On the other side of their deep water experience, Simon, James and John let it all go.  But the other side of the black river of loss is indeed salvation; salvation found in the shift from will we catch enough fish to survive, to can we gather enough people to take in the abundance threatening to sink our boat?

Where is the deep water for you?  What would it mean to go there?  What would it mean to answer Jesus’ call?  In the words of our Lord, “Let’s go fishing.”

Prayer: O Lord, show us where the deep water lies.  Lead us there that we might discover the salvation you will for us on the other side of those deep waters and find the freedom to let go and follow you.  Amen.

Author: Joe Clifford

Mary Oliver’s Complete Poem

In Blackwater Woods | Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

 

 

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