They cast their nets

On the Gospel Reading (see

No doubt we’ll sing “They cast their nets in Galilee” this Sunday. I love the hymn, and I’m glad I learned it when I was a little girl.

But pretty early, certainly by the time I was a teenager, I took a dislike to part of the hymn when I observed how complicated life is, not to mention watching the complexity of my own inner life unfolding.

They cast their nets in Galilee just off the hills of brown;
such happy, simple fisher folk, before the Lord came down.
Contented, peaceful fishermen …

The author, William Alexander Percy, had his own share of tragedy and deep unhappiness. Did he long for some kind of idyll, where life was simple, happy, offering contentment and peace?

Just because you fish for a living, doesn’t make family dynamics less entangled, village prejudices less difficult, political realities less convoluted than at any other time or place. And even a casual reading of the Gospels show Peter and John to be complicated characters.

But I agree that Jesus showing up made things more entangled, difficult, and convoluted. The hymn continues:

   …before they ever knew
 the peace of God that filled their hearts
brimful, and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,
homeless in Patmos died.

Peter, who hauled the teeming net,
head-down was crucified.

The peace of God, it is no peace,
but strife closed in the sod.

Yet let us pray for but one thing –
the marvelous peace of God.

The Call continues to turn me inside out. All my own complexities become incense offered in the crucible of ongoing redemption. The more dross that burns away, the deeper I find that alchemical peace at the center of my being.

In local news:

I just returned from a week with the sisters of the Community of Saint John the Baptist in Mendam, New Jersey.( We worked together on John 20:1-18, the appearance of the Risen Christ to Mary Magdalene. I had a wonderful time, sharing meditations on Mary Magdalene in the morning and preaching on the radicalization of Jesus in the early Gospel of Mark (from the daily office lessons) in the afternoon, and catching up with individual sisters between times. Thank you, Sisters!

Meanwhile at home, we got another 20 inches of snow. Bill sent me the following picture with this message, “Don’t forget where your heart is.” Indeed. How could I forget?  And now, I’m so happy to be home.  (My writing room is upstairs on the far right.)  Here’s a link to a video of Bill bringing in the ducks at night.

Saint Aidan's House, January, 2011

4 Responses to “They cast their nets”

  1. claire Says:

    Ah, I wish I could say that The more dross that burns away, the deeper I find that alchemical peace at the center of my being. I don’t feel quite that way at the moment.
    I would have loved listening to you preaching on the radicalization of Jesus in Mark’s gospel — my favorite Gospel.
    Enjoy the snow, the beautiful place where your heart is, Bill and the ducks 🙂

  2. ammaguthrie Says:

    Oh, Claire, you are so lovely…

  3. deb blakley Says:

    Thanks for the pic of home and where you write. I am not sure why but it is pleasant to know where you sit when you write to us; what you see out of your window as you listen to the heart of God and speak to us you own. I love the lights in the windows.

  4. deb blakley Says:

    Oh, it’s me again. Your comments about the complications of the fishermen and that way of life reminded me of the John Denver song that went: “Life on the farm is kind of laid back, ain’t much an old country boy he can’t hack. Early to rise, early in the sack, thank God I’m a country boy.” You remember. Having lived and worked on this farm for thirty some years now, I can tell you it is anything but laid back. As always, the ache behind the visual is immense.

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