I have always known my father to be a caring, loving father. But I forgotten how “holy” he was until recently when I was walking through some old memories of my dad when I was a young pup of 9 or 10.
One specific remembrance comes to mind of a sweltering southern summer morning when we wanted to go to the River. Now, the River is not necessarily a holy place, but we spent a lot of time there, and when we weren’t there, we were thinking about being there.
On this particular day, we needed bait so we could bait our lines stretched across the muddy unknown bottom of the River. We stopped at a deep drainage ditch, full of the previous night’s rainfall. The ditch was about three and a half feet wide, and the spot we were working was about six feet long. The water was probably only two feet deep, but at that time, that was deep water to me.
We were seining that little stretch of water for crawdads. Catfish love crawdads, and plus, they were free, if we could catch ’em in our seine. Those little devils are fast.
Dad stood on one end, his work pants rolled up to his knees revealing pasty white legs and bare feet. I stood opposite my dad, wearing denim shorts and a shirt my mom had warned me to not get dirty. The Tennessee clay oozed between my toes, triggering all kinds of fight or flight responses in my kiddish mind.
The job was simple, really. Hold the net to the bottom of the ditch, and across to both sides, creating a trap from which the crawdads could not escape. And while holding the net tight in those three dimensions, I would walk the net- and the bait- towards my dad. I had to keep the net on the bottom, and against both sides of the ditch. In my good shirt. Barefoot. And those little suckers are fast.
Dad was in a bit of a hurry, because it took some time to bait all the lines, wait for the fish, and then run the lines to gather the fish. Back then, he could get impatient really quickly.
I was not in much of a hurry, due to the shirt and bare feet mentioned above. And again, those little suckers are fast.
I think I had fallen two or three times and wasted ten minutes, with nothing to show for my effort (not even a clean shirt) when I heard my dad really get in the spirit- he raised is hands to the air, looked into the heavens, and let fly with a long string of words unknown to my ears that signified one thing- daddy was speaking in tongues!
My dad put on a verbal display of spirituality that would make a charismatic blush with envy. His voice was as strong as any preacher, unknown words flowing like milk and honey. And while I didn’t understand the words, I wondered if the expression on his face was what Moses looked like when he came down from the mountain to find all the golden idols his people had made in his absence.
Suddenly fearing that my dad was about to call down fire from heaven, I made well sure I got my sticks in the muddy bottom, my net across both sides, and with a mighty rush we must have wiped out two full generations of crawdads in one fell swoop.
We hurriedly got our gear back in the truck, and with our hard-earned bait, we fished until well after dark.
We never spoke of that day again, but one question has always lingered…..
Who was the interpreter?