Bart rowed us to all the right spots in the river, deftly avoided the half-hidden rocks and stumps, told us where to cast our spinners and how to bring them in. He even pulled out a few hooks for us, including the one embedded in my scalp by my enthusiastic son.
The river was generous to us. And Bart was a good guide.
Here again, Bart led the way, with my little girl and his little boy and Zinger the cold-hearted rat terrier on board his canoe. Bart pointed out fish swimming down below us. He took us up a tributary where it got so shallow we had to get out and pull for a bit, the melted snow so chilly it stung the ankles.
He also warned us away from the far end of the lake, where the outflow was so strong you were likely to get pulled out of the lake and never, ever return. Or at least that's how I told it to my boys.
+ + +
It seems to me that the life of faith is a bit like being out on the water with a good guide.
We have Jesus, and Mary, and all the saints to teach us where to go, where it is good to go. They are our guides. Just as my friend was intimately familiar with the river he has known from childhood, and the lake, too, Jesus and his saints are intimately familiar with the heart of God, with the good and gracious ways of the Lord.
If we follow where our guides go, do what they teach us to do, we can avoid the hurtful rocks of bad choices, avoid being drawn into situations we don't want to find ourselves in, avoid things that will pull us away from the love of God.
Likewise, we can find the spots "where the fish are"--where fruitfulness and joy await, where our efforts can make a real difference in the world. Become fishers of men, even.
We can try to make life up as we go along. Good luck with that.
Or, we can entrust ourselves to the guides God has provided for us.