It was a Monday morning. The week before had been a full one, but the week ahead promised to be a little lighter. I decided to slip off to a creek near the house to fish for awhile, promising myself not to stay more than an hour.
The little creek is beautiful. Just off a walking trail, but tree-lined, with rippling current in places, and filled with fish eager to give this mediocre fly-fisherman a chance.
I tried my usual spot for awhile. Not much luck. Moved down stream along the bank and found a spot where the water was still, and a smooth rocky ledge at the water’s edge provided a good place to stand and cast. A water moccasin slid off the bank and into the water as I walked up. I watched him cross the creek and then made a cast.
I caught one. Made another cast or two or three. I really don’t remember. At some point I must have stepped on a slick spot on the rock and fallen backwards. As I came to, everything was black. I was conscious, but my eyes were closed. I couldn’t move…couldn’t breathe. Strangely calm, I remember thinking to myself, “I must be dying.” And then I hear my inner voice, “Breathe, Steve.” Nothing. “Breathe!” Nope. “BREATHE!” I gasped for air and sat up.
I was sitting in about three inches of water. Dazed, with a huge knot on the back of my head, and soaking wet, I grabbed my rod, stumbled up the bank, and walked to the car. Drove home by myself…or was it by myself? Maybe Someone had His hand in it. My dear wife got me to the emergency room. The verdict was a concussion, but probably no worse. The sentence was “rest for a few days; the dizziness should improve.” It did.
That was less than four weeks ago. Today, I went back to the creek for the first time. Not to fish. Just to look. It is such a peaceful, beautiful place. I could see several nice fish in the clear shallow water. They didn’t swim off. They may have remembered me as the guy who fell in the creek, so they figured they didn’t have much to worry about.
This life is so beautiful. There is lots to laugh at, especially if we can laugh at ourselves. There is lots of joy, especially if we focus on it instead of the pain. At every turn, God is showing us his grace and love…in nature, in our loved ones, and especially in His Son.
As I walked away from the creek again today, dozens of butterflies were fluttering about. A few alighted on me as I walked. Beautiful. Some other day perhaps the story will end differently, and I’ll awake beside a crystal river with the tree of life on either side, and I’ll walk along the bank to the river’s source: “The river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God” (Rev. 22:1). And as the glorious scene fills my mind, and it gradually becomes apparent that I have never really seen beauty before, that little voice within me will say, “I must be living.”
– Steve Klein