Five Bluebirds, Mel Gibson, and Jesus Walk Into A Spirit Family Reunion
An Easter extravaganza
At the risk of sounding like a surly heretic, I have long loathed Easter season. Not the reason-for-the-season itself: celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Or at least my Lord and Savior. (I don’t mean to be presumptuous. Maybe you worship Baal or Elon Musk.) I’m grateful that according to our theology, Christ didn’t stay down for the count. Christianity really wouldn’t be the same without him.
But for a man who fly fishes with the fervor of someone who gets paid to do it, even if he doesn’t, this is always a nerve-racking time of year with lots of competing demands. When the shad start running up our rivers, you have a limited amount of time before they head back out to sea. But as we emerge from winter, it’s usually spring in your head before it is on the ground. The weather stays perpetually flukey – rain runoff frequently blows the rivers for days. Then all the spring chores come crashing down on you at once. Never one to polish off my rendering-to-Caesar in say, February, I have to do my taxes, always a painful reminder that roughly a quarter-to-a-third of the fruits of my labor, depending on how much I can claw back, go to some schmucky bureaucrat in Washington.
Then I spend days getting my lawn tractor and weed-eater to work after they’ve been sitting under cobwebs and mouse turds in the frozen garage all winter. Then there’s the large Easter dinner we host each year, which always takes days more of home improvement tasks and culinary preparation. And all this, on top of the usual occupational concerns - which as a fishing buddy of mine likes to say, is the work that keeps us from our true business.
The other day, I was so frustrated by my inability to get to my one true love – hickory shad – due to schedule overcrowding, that I headed out on the only day I could manage, a blustery, drizzly Sunday in the mid forties. It was the kind of weather that makes the buds on the trees, just about ready to throw off their winter coats and bloom, tuck back in and say, “Call me when it’s May.” It was a disaster, of course. I got skunked. I caught a hook in my finger when it slipped the snake guide, while I was trying to beat a bubba to one of my honey holes. Then, just when I was about to get into some fish, my prized shad rod snapped on a backcast. The replacement part won’t get here for another week.
As I returned home, defeated, my hope hadn’t exactly been crucified. But it was pretty banged up. The dog didn’t even get out of the mulch bed to greet me. He knew a beaten man when he saw one. I did what I always do this time of year, I walked over to the bluebird box in our yard to see if there were any surprises. And I found these five beauties.
I’ll spare you the groaner metaphor of my hope emerging from its tomb. But…..you get the idea. It was just what I needed to see, right when I needed to see it. Hat tip to J.C., or whoever sent them my way, after my bluebirds’ punishing winter absence. Bluebirds matter. If you’re new to Slack Tide, I have explained why in some detail, which you can read here.
Bonus track interruptus: I’m doing things a little out of order today, putting the bonus track in the middle, instead of at the end, since I’m about to paywall off the rest of this bad boy, but I wanted even free riders to experience this song – and also so that my headline makes (some) sense. Though it references meeting “a man from from Galilee,” it’s not an Easter song. But it is raise-the-dead music. Spirit Family Reunion doing “Green Rocky Road.” Don’t be dismissive of what you might take for hipsters in Grapes-of-Wrath-wear. These kids can play and shout.
Editorial Note: I didn’t want to just leave you with a fishing-blue-balls story on this Easter weekend. So here’s a screwy little piece I wrote long ago, which I’m still fond of. It was pegged to the opening of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. But rather than just being about the movie, it was about the interfaith dialogue that accompanied it. Both of the formal variety – an organized ecumenical panel, in which each religious group seemed to take turns grousing about their own perceived suffering, everyone trying to nudge Christ off the cross. And then there was the informal conversation that occurred between me and a very entertaining Jewish film buff, Norm Linksy, who became my wise and unlikely companion on this odyssey. (“I’m a journalist,” I introduced myself to Norm. “I’m a Jew,” he responded.) It isn’t, strictly-speaking, an Easter story. But close enough. There’s not much Resurrection in it. But there is a lot of Crucifixion. And as the Scripture says, “Everybody wants to rise from the dead, but nobody wants to die.” (For the non-Scripture steeped, I forget which verse – I think it’s in the Book of Zaccheus somewhere. Trust me on this.)
AT LAST WEEK'S OPENING OF Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, I never expected actually to see Jesus. Yet there he was, carnival-barking on the Connecticut Avenue sidewalk outside the Avalon Theatre in Washington, D.C. He stood out in his long brown hair and tunic. "Blessed are the merciful--go vegetarian!" he cried. But something wasn't right. It might have been the disciple carrying the "For Christ's sake, go veg" sign. Or maybe it was the mouth-hole on his beard riding up over his nose that gave him away as a PETA impostor. "Are you having trouble there?" I asked, motioning to his beard-wig. "I am," he said, "but not as much trouble as the animals."
One could hardly fault Fake Jesus for exploiting The Passion--he's merely the latest in a long line. Observing their 11th Commandment--Thou Shalt Not Waste a Marketing Tie-in--Christian merchandisers have cranked out everything from Bibles with the cinematic Jesus, James Caviezel, on the cover, to pewter nail pendants. The going joke among secular editorialists is what's next, Jesus action figures? But seasoned evangelicals like me know that those are old news. You can already get them at jesuschristsuperstore.net, including one that comes with "Ninja-Messiah throwing nails" and a "killer-cross" pump-action shotgun.