Between Two Worlds Day 37 (of 40)
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”
That is the opening line to Norman Maclean’s movie A River Runs Through It. I was pondering Dee and Dave’s responses to my post yesterday–Dee beautifully describing a mystical faith where she feels no separation or division “between two worlds” and Dave who shared that he felt some momentary guilt for not being in church on a Sunday morning when he realized that he was actually sitting in God’s cathedral while fishing at Lost Creek in its unadulterated splendor.
Both of the posts forced me to name more precisely the source of this nagging between-two-worlds feeling. Both Dee and Dave expressed beautifully that they have found a way to integrate the many experiences of their lives in such a way that the “oneness of God” is felt equally both inside and outside the church walls. In their own ways (actually Dave more literally) they have made real Norman Maclean’s profound statement that in his family “there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”
The line reminds us that union with God and participation in the Sacred Rhythm doesn’t just happen when sitting on hard pews, singing the doxology and praying the Lord’s Prayer; God can just as easily be experienced and found wading waist deep in a frigid river, pounding the pedals up a mountain pass, or pondering a sunset over a meadow erupting in wildflowers. The line reminds us that all good religion should be as soulful as a fly fishing expedition and that all fly fishing is as sacred as stained glass windows adorning a church entrance.
So why, if the Divine Presence can be found in all places and in any place, do I continue to wrestle with this “between two worlds” theme? It has less to do with my personal life and spirituality and more to do with my professional calling.
Like Dave I treasure my experience of God both when I am riding my bike through a canyon and when I am singing “How Great Thou Art” with a hundred other faithful voices. I can bridge those two worlds easily in my own mind and heart. I also have enough religious training to recognize that Dee, Dave, myself and many other readers have been describing the return to our mystical traditions (even if the word mysticism makes them nervous!). In many ways what is happening right now is not a new thing, but a return to a very old thing. John Shelby Spong would say that we are finally correcting a detour that Christianity took 1600 years ago when our faith became more doctrinal and lost the experiential core of it.
Dee and Dave hinted and even suggested that there doesn’t need to be two worlds and a wall of separation between the experience of God while kneeling in church and the experience of God while kneeling in front of a recently caught four-pound rainbow trout. I agree.There doesn’t need to be two worlds, but not everyone who hears the sentence, “there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing” immediately say, “Oh, I so get that!” In fact, some even find it threatening and I have the scars to prove it.
In some ways this theme “between two worlds” is about bridging the gap between those who see very little difference between religion and fly fishing and those fish on Saturday and pray on Sunday.