Tag Archives: nature

Irene

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

I obsess about my daily concerns,
as if they were matters of great importance,
debating if this or that choice
makes much of a difference
in the overall scheme of things.
I wonder if people like me,
or why I continually lose things,
or whether my skills have diminished all at once.
Then, along comes Hurricane Irene,
shifting sand and water with a blustery blast,
moving car and house with comedic effect,
and banishing me to my TV set
to watch power outages and flooded streets.
I sit in the glow of the screen,
and realize that nature and I
have little to do with each other,
a further demonstration that
God and I are separate entities,
each doing what he or He wants
under trying circumstances.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.

If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit: http://www.melglenn.com/

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Praying for Trout

by Eric Eisenkramer (Ridgefield, CT)

In the course of my years of fly fishing, I have probably spoken dozens of prayers while on the stream. When the sun was well below the horizon, and there was just enough light to tie on one more fly, I said to myself: “Please let one more trout rise.” When the rain clouds were forming, and it looked like my day of fly fishing was going to be cut short, I may have whispered: “Just a little longer, please.” And of course, when the trout were not biting, and every cast and every fly was ineffective, I might have said out of frustration: “Come on, just one bite.”

As The Fly Fishing Rabbi, sometimes people ask me if my prayers for trout to rise are answered more readily than those of everyone else. I think not. I’m just as likely to get rained on, or to lose my fly in the dark or not to catch a single fish as anyone else.

As I thought about praying on the stream, I asked myself: What should we pray for when fly fishing? Is there such a thing as a blessing for fly fishing?

In Judaism there are two types of prayers, petition and thanksgiving. When we say “Come on, just one bite,” we offer a petition, asking for something specific. But I am not sure that this is really a prayer. To pray usually means bringing God into the equation. At my Temple, we say a healing prayer, called the mishebeirach, each week at services. I look around the sanctuary and ask people to share the names of those that are ill. And then we sing and pray together that they will find healing. Asking for a fish to rise is not exactly a prayer. It is a wish. Asking God to heal a person is a prayer.

There are prayers that are good for fly fishing, and they are prayers of thanksgiving. Ironically, I am more likely to say a prayer of thanks when I am not catching fish. When the trout are rising, I am to busy or excited to think about anything but the fishing. But when the water is silent, and I cannot get a bite, and I am not too frustrated, then I sometimes take a moment to look around. I watch the river flow by. I feel the breeze. I smell the pine needles.

When I see the beauty of nature, I ask myself: How did such an amazing earth come to be? What did I do to deserve to live in such a beautiful place? Feelings of awe, connection and humility come to me. And then I am led to a simple response: “thank you.” Saying “thank you” when fly fishing is to acknowledge that this earth we live on is a gift. Saying “Dear God, thank you” when on the stream is to offer up a prayer.

In Judaism, there is a formula to begin a blessing: Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe. Then you add thing for which you want to say “thank you.” Sometimes when fly fishing, I speak the words of this blessing from Jewish tradition: Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of light and darkness, Maker of peace, Creator of all.

The next time I am on the stream, I will probably still wish for the rain to hold off and a big trout to take my fly. But I will also try to take a moment to offer up a simpler prayer. I might just say something like this: “Dear God, thank you for the gift of this amazing world.”

Eric Eisenkramer, the rabbi of Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, CT, was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where he discovered his love of fly fishing. A graduate of Tufts University, he received his ordination from Hebrew Union College.

“Praying for Trout” is reprinted here with the author’s permission. It first appeared on his blog, http://theflyfishingrabbi.blogspot.com/ where you can find more of his thoughts on fly fishing and Judaism.

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