We were driving home tonight from Chatham Charter’s annual Athletic and Academics banquet when I was explaining to my daughter about how someday, she might be asked to lead others. If were to rely on our ancestral history as a guide, then it would be expected. I tried to convey to her that it may be years before she finally realizes her abilities to lead; I know I myself was a late bloomer in that regard.
That’s when it hit me; our similarities in life to the Kousa Dogwood, or more commonly known in our area, the Japanese Dogwood. The Kousa is a small deciduous flowering tree, a distant relative to our own Eastern Dogwood, which is indigenous to this area. However, unlike our local variety, the Kousa blooms nearly a month later; a late bloomer of sorts.
We always knew that when the Dogwood’s bloomed, it was about time for the fish to start biting. One of the first events in life that made me realize I had the potential to lead was fishing. You see, up to a certain point in my life, I always relied upon an adult to take me fishing. It was something that I never really gave much though too, but looking back, I understand my dependence upon others at that time and how fishing only exemplified that need. We never had a pond nearby that I could just grab a pole and go off too on my own. We usually had to travel to the nearest watering hole. Now, mind you, we grew up nearly on the banks of the Wabash River, but we were never allowed to venture near the river alone. There were too many tragedies to count from this sometimes treacherous confluence that flowed past our small town in southern Indiana.
It wasn’t until my last Boy Scout summer camp that I finally had the opportunity to go fishing without an adult. I don’t recall the other youth’s name who went with me, but since we weren’t allowed to go out in a boat alone at camp, I had another Boy Scout as a companion. I had recently learned how to row and was more or less practicing my new found skill, while taking the opportunity to wet a line. Once out on the open water, I remember feeling a sense of freedom and control I had never known before. The other boy and I made our way all around the lake that summer, becoming quite the fishing pair. I caught my first Crappy in that lake. Funny the things you remember.
From that summer on, I found I no longer needed an adult to take me fishing, but rather, I sometimes wound up taking others fishing with me instead. More often than naught, I went alone, learning my independence along the way. There were times that I would load a twelve foot long john boat into the trunk of my 74 Ford Torino, wedging the end in so that its weight kept it from bouncing out; that must have been a sight going down the gravel road. I would take the boat to stripper pits where I would sometimes drag it several yards to launch it into some remote body of water that appeared as if they had been untouched by man or rod since their creation. These were all man made bodies of water left over from the coal strip mining in our area. They were never stocked but only had in them what the good Lord provided. It was on these crystal clear bodies of desolate water I found peace in solitude; being alone somehow made me feel closer to God.
As years went by, I eventually found the day I was able to take my own children fishing. There are few joys that compare to watching a child catch their first fish. My daughter seemed to be a natural. Her patience for sitting and waiting were well beyond her years, and her expected temperament. She now often goes fishing on her own on our farm in one of our three ponds. If she’s not fishing then she is out riding her dear pony Sugar. Her independence at such an early age is sometimes breathtaking.
As we drove home from the banquet, I realized my daughter might not show her leadership skills openly but she was already far ahead of where I was at her age; in this respect I can take comfort. My daughter is already a different type of leader than I had ever imagined. Where and how far she goes with it only Heaven knows.
We might be like the Kousa Dogwood when it comes to openly leading others, but hopefully when we finally do blossom; it is something that honors God. At least for us, it’s our ancestral obligation. For if we do nothing else, hopefully we can honor the Glory of God through all that he has given.
In this I pray, Amen.