Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cast Your Nets

Peter:Fishing as Sally:Teaching

Winter, 2013. I didn't know what was coming next in my life. The job I thought I wanted, teaching art for just enough compensation to send Niles to preschool, building an art portfolio, using it as a possible springboard to more art teaching in the future, hadn't panned out that past autumn. In a big way.

Our relationship with the school crumbled quickly after that. I'd already pulled London out and sent her to the little school she graduated from (and Brooklyn and Niles still attend).

I was subbing in a lower-middle-class suburb. I knew I needed a classroom job for the fall, or walk away from teaching for good. I was at a sort of crossroads. Everything seemed kind of barren for me. I wondered if I could manage something else. I wondered if I was even good at anything else.

The Gospel reading that Sunday was the one where Peter and Andrew are in the boat with Jesus and he tells them to cast their nets into deep water. Fr. Miguel told the story about how we are asked to cast our own nets into deep water, see what we draw up, see what bounty we find.

I knew I needed to try again. I needed to get my life in order and my portfolio and find a teaching job. So I got to work even though it felt kind of hopeless, like a useless effort. I was older. I'd been home for 13 years. I didn't have a master's degree. Talk about deep water.

Easter Season, 2013. The Gospel reading that Sunday was the one where Peter, sitting on the shore with other disciples, gets up and says, "I'm going fishing." I'd always read that with a sort of disgust in his voice, like, damn it, I'm outta here.

But Fr. Miguel said it like he was searching. Fishing. Searching. Hunting. This is what Peter did before Christ arrived in his life. And now that seemed over. What do I know? What am I good at? I need my life to make sense again and fishing was part of what made sense. I need to go do the one thing I know how to do.

I left that mass kind of shaken. I'm going teaching. It's the one thing I know what to do and I need my life to make sense again and I need to get this done. Now.

That week I got the permanent sub job out west, teaching in an art classroom for what was probably the only time I would be paid to teach art. And it was fun and perfect and poignant. Right after that job, I got the job I have now. Catholic school. Huge pay cut. Lots of fringe benefits--intangibles, you might say. In many ways, it has been a soft place to land, to start again, to go back to what I know from before.

This week, my class went to mass on Thursday.

The weekday reading was cast your nets into deep water. Again. I thought about Fr. Miguel's words from 2 1/2 years ago. I listened to the school's pastor's words, which were nearly the same. Cast your damned nets into deep water, Sally. Go outside your comfort zone. Do what seems contrary or useless or hopeless and see what God brings.

I drove to London's tennis match thinking about it. On the way home, she mentioned she'd gone to mass as well that afternoon during her activity period. Served mass, in fact. Got donut holes afterwards as a reward. And she talked about the Gospel. Cast your nets.

I'm not a "God gives me a sign" kind of girl. But I thought about fishing and teaching and how easy and comfortable my job is and how I am very very uncomfortable with the comfort. I thought about Peter on the shore searching for something that would fit, something that made sense. I felt like that, like I was uncomfortably waiting for something else bad to happen. And instead I needed to go do what I do best.

I need to go fishing.

I need to cast my nets into deep water.

I think I have a chance to draw up a catch beyond what I can hold.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful, and I think I needed to read it. Thank you.