Finding a way back
wading angler fly fishing
Photo: Mike Sepelak

He slips quietly into the water and gazes upstream. His shoulders slump with a grave weariness that resonates in the wispy mist that clings to the water's surface, the numbing hush of distant whitewater, the dark edges of this secluded sanctuary. It’s been hard times.

He stands motionless, his soft stare remaining upward. He looks not for the dimples of rising trout or for the emergence of this morning’s hatch or for the locations of prime feeding lies. His focus, if there is focus at all, is much farther away. Beyond the cascade. Beyond the distant bend. Beyond his understanding, though he tries his hardest.

He looks for an answer. He looks for why.

After what seems an eternity he lowers his eyes and surveys the water close at hand. This trip was to be an escape from that which cannot be escaped, from the weight of it; an unconvincing capitulation to the harsh truth that the stream continues to flow despite his heart’s deepest certainty that all things should have stopped. He did.

But ingrained muscle memory eventually overcomes bone-deep inertia and he gently strips line onto the moving water, a mossy green strand that drifts away behind him like sweet memories departing on the currents of time. With a quiet ease he retrieves those memories and sends them airborne, his subdued cadence imparting a graceful fluidity to his cast, a quality seldom experienced, before.

Remembrance swirls hypnotically around him in long, lazy loops. He surrenders to the rhythm, puts the weight aside, and lets his mind ride the soaring silk. He thinks of nothing more than the movement of arm and rod and line, the tumble of water, and the silent drift of a dainty wad of deer hair. He loses himself in the minutia. He forgets everything else …

… but for only a moment.

It’s a start.


This is well written. For some of us, if not all of us, we find the escape on the water is the therapy only nature can provide. Thank you.

This is me....albeit not weighed by the obvious grief, but knowing that the river is my place of refuge where the burden of my ministry is gentle removed and the Lord and I move to the asting rhythm. Thank you....

Yep. Been there…nature can heal if you let her.

This beautiful work made me break down, sobbing.
A few years ago fly fishing was the only thing that could take my mind off my trauma and the demons that haunted my existence. To have those few hours where I was forced to focus on the path of the fly, the drift of my line, gave my mind much-needed time to rest.
You captured the experience perfectly. Thank you.