Running on Faith: Catching joy –– hook, line and sinker

By Shelley Metcalf
Catholic Spirit Staff

Within the last year or so, my 12-year-old son has become enamored with fishing. Not only does this entail hours of standing in the bait aisles at Academy, but it also gives me the opportunity to watch him grow before my eyes as he repeatedly casts and reels for hours on end.
First of all, I have to say that I am not a patient person, which is a trait I seem to have passed down to my son. He is the one always yelling at his sister to “hurry up” or blasting the car horn when he’s ready to leave and no one else is. However, when he is fishing, I am amazed at how that changes. He could literally fish for hours –– even when nothing is biting! So this new hobby of his is hopefully teaching him a little patience, which is something he will probably never learn from me.
Secondly, he is learning more about budgeting and spending. Nearly every cent he earns or receives as a gift goes toward his fishing equipment, but he makes sure he researches bait, tackle and fishing line before he buys anything. He’s learning that every cent counts. Then when his brand-new fishing rod snapped in two on the first cast, he learned quickly about returns and exchanges, and not to mention a little about standing in the long return line at Wal-Mart. 
Next, I forgot to mention that my son’s name is Andrew (we call him “Drew”). So on Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew, as we read Matthew’s Gospel, “As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen,” the story and St. Andrew took on a whole new meaning. He had the Bible out searching for every mention of Andrew. Then in January when we heard the same Gospel at Sunday Mass, his ears perked up and he whispered, 
“Mom, I was born to be a fisherman.”
These are all things I have been trying to teach him for years and now he is finally learning these lessons first hand. But the greatest blessing of all that has come from these fishing adventures is the pure joy that I see on his face when he finally catches a fish. This past week after numerous unsuccessful fishing trips, he caught four fish in a row in the space of about half an hour. He was ecstatic and literally bouncing off the walls. His excitement and joy were contagious. And that evening, in the midst of pre-teen angst, middle-school homework and dirty dishes, thanks to a few bass who finally decided to bite, the Metcalf household went to bed a little more joyful.
It is my experience that nothing is more rewarding for a parent than when one’s child finds a hobby, a sport, a Bible verse, a book or whatever that brings them such joy and happiness. This fishing gig may not last forever, but the lessons and the joys we are all getting will go on and on, and for that I am eternally grateful. 
My prayer is that fish or no fish, my children and I continue to catch joy from one another. St. Andrew pray for us!