5 comments Monday, April 13, 2009

I feel overwhelmed whenever I am asked to speak about my savior, and those intense feelings increase when I am asked to speak on the Atonement, the single most unselfish and beautiful thing in the history of the world.

We, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have just finished the spring session of general conference, and in this session we heard some amazing talks on the atonement and on our Savior.
The messages were clear. Let the atonement work in your life.
Reach out to the Lord, for he loves us.

I know he loves me, and I can see this love vividly in his creations. It is evident to me every time I step into the Big Lost River with my fly rod in hand. It never ceases to amaze me how calming and timeless the sound of running water is to my soul. Before I cast my line I stand still and listen, sometimes for many minutes, to the message that the rustling river sends to me.
And when I have soaked up the brilliance of the moment, I unhook my fly from my cork handle and begin to cast.

I am casting to catch fish of course, and when the line finally lands on the water, and my wet fly sinks into the turbid flow, I anticipate a large trout swimming full speed to intercept the offering. I foresee the moment the fish hits and I set the hook.

Fly fishing is mysterious at best. It is a moment cut out of a dream.

Some days you bring so many fish into the net that you don’t take time to enjoy them individually. Some days you doubt yourself because you don’t catch any at all and you wonder why you even bothered. But some days you catch only 1 fish. How can a 1 fish day prove so incredibly pleasing? After all isn’t the goal of fly fishing to fool as many fish as possible in the time you are given?

On those rare one fish days, you are constantly fighting to catch a fish. You must choose the correct fly, present your fly as correctly as you can, and cast, cast, and cast again. There comes a time when giving up seems like the only option….And then it happens.
A single fish devours your fly. You feel his weight pass through your fly rod and into your arms. Your adrenaline flows freely.
Multiple times he breaks the surface and shakes his red and silvery head at you, in a showing of splendor, and an attempt to throw the hook.
His strength is unmatched and the wild in him untamed.
And then all at once it is over, and you have him in your hand.
What a treasure! You worked all day to catch him.
Time is taken to inspect every inch of his glistening body. You admire his incredible coloring and his small black spots. His eyes are big and bright. In your bare hands you feel his strength and his determination to live. Upon closer inspection you even notice a small wound on his tail and on his head below his eye. You wonder how he received these wounds but you are indifferent to them. He is beautiful. Time is taken to verbally thank him for making your day and for giving you this delicious life experience before you loosen your grip and release him back into his world.
That “one” fish quickly becomes the reason you came fishing today. There were no others to compare.

And so it is with our Savior, who stands in the waters of life and casts to each one of us.
***I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is “ONE” son or daughter of God. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others.

I am one person, an individual with interests, talents, weaknesses, beliefs and hopes. Sometimes it is hard for me to think the Savior knows me on a personal level. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe he felt my personal pain and my agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In my youth I suffered with a deep and unrelenting depression and oft times wondered if I could possibly be the only one in the world feeling the way I did. Many times the pain was so intimate and foreboding that it was a chore to merely wake up in the morning. The savior experienced my dark depression firsthand. I know he did. In a way that I will never understand, he felt, to my horror, my awful state.
He cried with me, he distressed with me, and he despaired with me. If my depression alone nearly crippled me, I now understand why Jesus Christ’s body bled from every pore when he suffered for humanity. I also understand how He can succor me and comfort me perfectly and completely.

***The Savior endured the agony of inquisition, cruel beatings, and death by crucifixion on the cross at Calvary. Recently, there has been a great deal of commentary about this, none of which has made clear the singular point that no one had the power to take the Savior’s life from Him. He gave it as a ransom for us all. As the Son of God, He had the power to alter the situation. Yet the scriptures clearly state that He yielded Himself to scourging, humiliation, suffering, and finally crucifixion because of His great love towards the children of men.

We cannot take His sacrifice lightly, and we must not let the Atonement intimidate us. Jesus Christ loves us individually. ***Without His dear, dear sacrifice, there would be no way home, no way to be together, no way to be like Him. He gave us all He had. Therefore, “how great is his joy,” when even “ONE” of us “gets it”—when we look up from the murky waters and allow his strong hands to cradle us, and his compassionate heart to heal us from our bumps and bruises.

He does love us, even in our imperfect, carnal state. We all have moments of weakness and we will all sin and fall short, ***but if we have problems in our lives, we should not assume there is something wrong with us. Struggling with these problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, and stronger. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away.

Perhaps you are approaching the Saviors net and are frightened. Be not afraid, You are his ONE fish, you are his joy and his happiness. He has taken time to admire you, He feels your strength and your determination to live, and to return to your father in heaven with honor.

As I stand in the small rolling waters of the Big Lost River, and clumsily throw my fly to hungry trout I imagine my Savior standing in a much larger, much more treacherous river, casting to his hungry brothers and sisters, only his skill is perfected and his time to fish is unrestricted. I can only marvel at his cast and his presentation, so flawless and honed. If his first retrieval is unsuccessful, he does not fear, doubt, or question his presence on the stream. He stands tall and unmovable, with faith and hope, and continues to cast until I ingest his offering. And when the hook is set and I give myself to him, and he intercepts me into his strong hands and admires my colors and my many small wounds, He will whisper to me “Boone, you are worth everything I have done” and Because he loves me so intensely, I am worth his suffering and death.

I pray, on this day, that he knows I am thankful for his sacrifice. I pray that I can take advantage of his atonement in my life, and use it as a bridge to return to my father in Heaven with my family and those I love.

***NOTE - Portions of this Blog with *** in front of it were taken from LDS General Authorities talks on the Atonement.

4 comments Thursday, March 13, 2008

I cannot go an hour without my nasal spray.
Those of you who know me or have spent time around me won't have a hard time recalling a time when you saw me snort out of the little white bottle to relieve closed off nostrils.
I would like to relate a funny little story about how bad my dependence is on this ridiculous substance, and most of all how much I love my dear wife.

2 nights ago I went into my bed, so tired I could not think, and began my journey into sleep.
Not 5 minutes after I hit the pillow I realized that I needed to take a shot of my nasal spray so I could sleep through the night.
I always place a bottle of "death" directly on my night stand so in the darkness of the night I can reach out and find it with no additional movement to my body.
It's a skill that I acquired at a very young age.
In fact I could probably rob your home in the night with only my right hand.
You might find me limp and sprawled on your bedroom floor..... my hand ripping off all your valuables like a racoon.
Anyhow, as soon as I reached for the bottle a horrible unsettling feeling came upon me.
I realized in that instant that I had left my only bottle of nasal spray at my parents house during a brief visit earlier that day.
I knew exactly where it was, on the floor in the upper bedroom.
If I had been any more out of my mind with anxiety I would have actually tried to summon the bottle through space and time and drop in into my outstretched hand and then slow dance with it to that Brian Adams song "Feels like the first time together"
There would be no sleep this night.
I knew that this was my only bottle and there was no more in my entire house.
I came to the instant conclusion that I would rip the house apart in search of a hidden one to quench my dependence.

I rose out of bed and ran to my closet, reaching in for and searching through the jeans I had worn that day.
I thought of the possibility of my mind being full of a load of hot crap and that my nasal spray would be found in my right hand pocket of those jeans, but alas, my initial premonition was right. The bottle was gone and I wasn't getting it back until morning.

Then I started to panic, although my nasal passages were at 50% I knew that soon, within the hour, I would be completely clogged up and no breathing would occur out of said nostrils until the drug was delivered.
It was a race against the clock.
I immediately decided to let me wife in on my dilemma, and bless her heart, cause she's heard it all before (3 or more times a week) she kept her witts, and our conversation, similar to all the other lost nasal spray nights, began.

"Boone, where is the last place you had it"?
"It's at mom and dad's, and it's the only bottle I have"
"Are you sure honey"?
"Do you think I would have another bottle around here and not know where it was"?
"Have you looked everywhere"?

At his time Nostril A is at roughly 25% functionality and nostril B is at about 45% and my anxiety is climbing, preparing for a sonic boom that I am almost sure will wake the neighbors.

"Christina I have looked everywhere I can possibly think to look"
"Okay honey"

It is at this time that I have a twilight moment and realize that If I cannot use nasal spray I will find something else to shoot up my nose, maybe to help the ever swelling membranes in my nasal cavity to subside.
I had heard that saline nasal sprays help the dry nose and for some reason I could not get this out of my mind. I am instantly dead set on shooting a salt solution up my nose.
I even decide to mix it up myself to get the most powerful effect possible.

I dump half the bottle of table salt in a small cup and pour a small (I'm talking small) amount of warm water in with the salt to dilute it.
I mix it up and prepare for war.
I realize I have no way to shoot it into my nose, so I look in the medicine cabinet for a delivery system.
Ah ha..... I find a medicine dropper, probably my daughters, (she won't need it anymore) and I fill it up with the salt mixture.

In some sort of distorted anxiety ridden way I picture the salt water washing over the swollen membranes and shaking their hands like a friendly politician.
I know in my heart of hearts this will work....It has to
And so I snort....... and the pain I feel in the back of my nose is like being struck by lightning.
Although I have never been struck by lightning I now know this is exactly how it feels and I want no part of it.........EVER.
My eyes are boiling and watering and I am dancing around like a gut shot Indian.
All this while my wife calmly checks her myspace page.
I realize I must look like an excited child, preparing to hit a pinata, or a bear that has just been stung by a swarm of bees and kicked by a horse at the same time.
The pain actually lasted for a good 3 minutes straight.
If that wasn't bad enough I thought that the pain, in some way, might be clearing up my nostrils, so I refilled the dropper for my other nostril.

The pain was the same and the dance was the same and the muffled words expressing my agony were even stronger, only this time I noticed the pain eating and tearing at the back of my throat. I can only compare it to no pain I have ever had before, and that's not even a good comparison.
I instantly had the sorest throat in the history of sore throats.
I decided to go lie in my bed and let the salt water do it's trick....Only it did just the opposite.
It was closing off my nostrils completely.
Nostril A report!!!
1% sir
Nostril B report!!!
There is no report from nostril B. I have lost him completely.

I am now at the point of congestion that I like to call total closure.
This is not like the total closure one gets in life from facing the cold blooded killer of their family, this is worse.
I cannot breathe through my nose at all. I have to breathe through my mouth and make my already raw throat worse.
What a predicament I am in.

Then out of the blue Christina comes into our room to go to bed.
I am snorting and tossing and turning and spitting and I'm sure I am swearing because anxiety attacks turn me into a vulgar gutter trout mouth.
But she is quiet and patient.
It is now 1:15 in the morning and my dear wife, with all the compassion and love she holds in her heart for me, heads out to the garage to look for nasal spray.
In the mean time I am getting dressed to drive to Idaho Falls.
I know wal mart stays open all night and I plan to hit it and refill my stash.
An hour drive at 2:00 in the morning is nothing!!
My mind is not on just one bottle. I will purchase at least 20 bottles because I never want this to happen again.
I imagine what the worker at check out will think when I throw 19 bottles of nasal spray down and rip the 20th one open and snort it right in front of her tired eyes.
Justice is only an our away.

I am sitting up in bed and I hear the back door open, and the lights turn off one by one.
I think I hear a bottle of nasal spray shake in the darkness.
In comes my beautiful wife and in her hand a 3 year old bottle of nasal spray.
She has never looked more beautiful to me.
Her efforts of digging and prodding around in the boxes in the garage in the middle of the night have paid off.
I instantly snort 3 shots in each nostril and wait for the pleasant effects to wash over my body.
And then I breathe. Fresh and deep.
I kiss my wife and tell her that she always comes through for me. And she does.
And I am the luckiest man in the world.


I have been feeding a landlocked group of 29 fat rainbow trout kerneled corn this winter.
I discovered Trout like kerneled corn when I was but a youth.
We would open a can and toss in a handful of corn into the water every 20 seconds or so.
Dad called it chumming. I called it......well.....chumming I guess.
These fish are living in the last pool of water remaining on the lower portion of the Big Lost River.
The river is dry for 6 miles above this section of river but this quarter mile stretch is spring fed and has continued to run even though the river is dry.
So life is really good for these fish because....hey, free corn.
The river was cutoff in October by a local farmer who decided to place a huge boulder strewn dam across the entire length of the river (maliciously by his own admittance) and then blame it on a beaver.
As I heard this farmers "BEAVER" rebuttal given to the Idaho department of water resources an image of a beaver with a pelt so huge it could carpet my whole home came into my mind.
I pictured that dinosaur sized beaver hard at work, grabbing 1 ton rocks with what must be awfully bad chipped teeth, and placing them in perfect order across the river.
I even pictured him giving kids river tours and then eating them before they realized that huge beavers were actually dangerous.
We all know that a beaver that big would not be content with eating trees. If there was a beast that size he would only eat human flesh. End of story.
As I tried to compute this atrocity in my mid aged brain I got a little depressed.
I couldn't help, being the Fly Fisherman that I am, thinking of the literal thousands of fish that suffocated in stale pools and then got eaten by Lord knows what.
Trout need moving water to breath. It carries the oxygen they need to live
So instead of run the death scene of all those fish over and over in my mind I decided to concentrate on the fish that were in my pool.
Heck they were still alive!
Each one of them over 16 inches and beautifully colored.
In fact I named several of them, and right now I feel kind of awkward telling you all that because who in their right mind names trout?
I do.
One of the trout, which I named GIMP, a 17 inch male, has a crooked back.
I actually caught and released him earlier this year and discovered the crook in his back is from an injury, not disease.
Anyhow, he is the most aggressive trout in the pool.
When I throw a handful of corn into the water, he becomes a heat seeking corn missile, darting this way and that, swallowing as many yellow kernels as possible.
I have to say that he eats 40% of the corn by himself.
I even witnessed him biting and ramming other fish so he could eat their kernel, kind of like a overweight youth I went to junior high school with. He wouldn't actually bite but man he could ram you hard...........Wait scrap the "he didn't bite" part.
He DID bite!
Anyhow, I quickly realized that the crook in his back has made him strong.
If I had a crook in my back I can guarantee I wouldn't be swimming/walking/reading a book very fast. In fact, if anything, I would prolly be creating a clothing line for people who are "tall in the legs then really short and bent up through the back"
I could also see the crook hampering the somersault lessons I plan to give my daughter this year.
It actually makes me happy to see one of the Lords little creations doing the best he can with his handicapped body, and excelling at it.
Anyhow, GIMP is a champion to me.

Right beside GIMP is RED.
RED has the most brilliant red stripe down her side that I have ever seen.
The crimson hue is incredible, especially in the noonday sun.
RED is a little standoffish but does consume her portion of corn. She likes to run with the pack as I have never seen her roaming the shallows alone
I can almost picture her as the life of the party, or at least the fish most likely to be mated with.
Then there is TROUT MOUTH and the ever present king of the pool HOG.
(Yes I know, the names are Boone Barnes specials)
These two fish are always avoiding each other. Maybe it is the fact that HOG is the biggest fish in the pool @ 20 inches (give or take an inch) and prolly weighs in at 3 ½ pounds, and TROUT MOUTH is only about 16 inches/1 ½ pound and has a misshapen lower jaw (prolly from getting rammed by fish like GIMP)
Oh the stories he could tell.
I will not go so far as to admit that I wish I could understand what a fish has to say, but man it would be cool wouldn't it?

Recently the pool has been losing water and the ground water flows have started to decline.
Yesterday I parked my truck on the river bank and busted out a fresh can of corn. I almost ran down the pool in anticipation of getting to feed those rowdy trout. What I found sickened me. The river was no longer flowing and the pool was frozen over. 3 inches of fresh ice kissed the top of the window to their world. I could no longer see them but I knew they were there, wondering where their corn was, and why they couldn't see the mountains or the trees any more..I almost think that they know.
They know that their march is in it's last mile. The slow agonizing suffocating final mile.
I can't help but relate these beautiful creatures and their struggles to my own life, and the constant almost overwhelming pressure of each and every day.
Am I letting my time on Earth ice over?
Am I so worried about the why's and whatnots of the world that I fail to realize the water in my own pond is declining and will someday dry up.
Life's lessons can be gleaned from any experience we have if we but allow our hands to touch and our hearts to love.
When spring comes and the water returns to the lower Big Lost river in mud laden torrents, and the ghosts of those wiley trout.... Gimp, Red, Hog and Trout Mouth, are released, you will find me on the river bank lost in thought, thanking the Lord above for the return of the life giving water.
I will never forget those feisty rainbows and their vitality and willingness to go on and enjoy their life, no matter what presents itself.
And as for now, I think I will defrost a few layers of ice on my own life...maybe take my wife to Hawaii...overcome my fear of flying.
Hug my little daughter a tad bit longer in the morning before I go to work.
Thank my parents for loving me so much.
Maybe this was a good thing after all.
Just Maybe...

Check out this video: The Trout in the Pool

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