Catching Peace

Uncle Mac was pretty tightly wound. Between running a small ranch lease, two Laundromats, and doing land specs for mineral rights across the state, he was pretty stressed most of the time. And the tension seemed to settle in his gut. His ’67 white El Camino was always stocked with giant-sized Tums bottles (2 or 3, different flavors) lying across the front dash, along with state maps and several dusty pairs of sunglasses.

One night he told me he’d been trying meditation to calm down.

“I sat very still on the living room floor,” he explained, “trying to think of nothing. Lasted about a minute. Then I had to get up to get a Tums, cause there are a lotta noisy people in my head!” He laughed, shook a bottle of Tums and poured out a couple of colored tablets into his hand. “I guess I’m just meant for the wild outdoors.” He shook the bottle again, grinning, “Reminds me of a rattlesnake!”

Later that week, he took me fishing. It was early in the morning. We sat quietly on the lake. A morning fog lifted as the small boat bobbed gently on the water. An abnormally large and persistent mosquito kept buzzing about, looking for breakfast. I swatted back and forth.

Uncle Mac snarled, “Stay still! You’ll spook the fish!”

So we breathed deeply and slowly, and stared silently at the line bobbers floating gently on the water’s surface. Twitching now and then as the mosquito buzzed around our faces and we waited for the bites!

After a while, the mosquito was gone, having satisfied its hunger, I suppose. When, suddenly, a large carp leaped up out of the water just off the bow, mouth open and then snapped shut!

Uncle Mac smiled, “There went that mosquito!”

A little later we saw another fish, maybe the same one, but this time in the distance, leaping out of the water and glistening briefly in the early sunrise! Then it was gone and all was just as quickly still and silent.

We sat for an hour more, met a few more mosquitos, and saw a few more fish break the surface. The sun was high above the water, so we packed it all up and headed for the dock.

A friend at the dock called out, “How was the fishing?”

“Great!” my Uncle shouted. “Got lots of bites, and caught a couple of fish!”

We got in the pickup and I said, “Uncle Mac, we didn’t catch any fish.”

“Caught ‘em leaping in the air and eating what ate us!” he laughed. “Circle of life, Tommy. That’s a pretty cool ‘catch’ if you ask me.”

“But we didn’t get to eat them,” I protested.

“I dunno, maybe,” he smiled. “But I’m feeling a lot more satisfied than when we first got here. Come to think of it, I haven’t needed a Tums all morning!”

The season of Advent begins this Sunday, December 2nd, the liturgical season when Christians around the world prepare hearts and minds for the coming birth of Jesus. It’s four Sundays, four weeks, of reflection, celebration, sharing, gathering, and reaching out with love to those around us and beyond as we remember the gift of peace at the very heart of our being.

I hope you will join us the next four Sundays in eleven:eleven, Downtown, at the Historic 512, as we reflect on Peace, Hope, Love and Joy with some very special music, laughter, and inspiration for the season!

December 2 – Peace
Peace in the chaos often comes to us, unexpected, and in the most ordinary moments.
Featuring Vivaldi’s music with Dace Sultanov, cellist, and the Revolution Band in a wildly inspiring version of “Winter.”

December 9 – Hope
What often anchors us with a sense of direction and purpose is more about seeing the underlying threads of life that link us on a compassionate path together and less about big dreams or wishful thinking.
Featuring Tom McDermott, ukulelist, and the Revolution Band
in the story Born to Be Wild”

December 16 – Love
We find we are rooted in the possibilities of new life and deep joy when we begin to recognize we are already in the midst of the miracle of God’s life and grace.
Featuring the amazing Minnesota Singer-Songwriter, guitarist Peter Mayer!

December 23 – Joy
There is only one response to new life, whenever and however we are invited to experience it – song and celebration! Join us for an eleven:eleven style celebration
of “Stories and Carols for Christmas!”

Hope to see you Sunday!


Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven

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