Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fourth Sunday in Advent Reflection

Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, shining like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb through the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life, which produces twelve crops of fruit, bearing its fruit each month. The tree’s leaves are for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse.   Revelation 22:1-3a CEB

“It’s all about the water and I have seen it.”

Sam Davis spent the summer fishing on the Columbia River. With Nez Perce tribal rights, he set gill nets to catch salmon. This year, with warmer water temperatures, aquatic weeds and grasses tangled in his nets, so they could not be left in for the usual time. The nets became too heavy. The river bottom is filled with silt where it used to be fine pebbles that the fish liked.

Salmon used to travel from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia, then up the Snake River to the Clearwater River and other tributaries to spawn on the Nez Perce Reservation. Sam remembers his dad and uncles casting off and catching salmon for dinner from the Clearwater River, on their property. But Sam has seen the salmon decline. “The dams started coming in there on the Snake River and we could tell that the fish were disappearing. The sockeye were going extinct. Where the fish used to swim, there was all clear water with no fish.” On the Reservation, at the Clearwater River they built the Dworshak dam. “And above the dam there are no fish. There is all clear water coming this way.”

In May this year, Sam came to fish the Columbia River, but the water was too high to fish. He went home to Idaho to fish the South Fork of the Salmon River, then he went up to the Sawtooth Mountains. Sam returned to the Columbia for the rest of the summer. During the weeks of the Columbia Gorge Fire, Sam continued to fish with almost zero visibility due to dense smoke filling the Gorge. 

Sam grew up chasing the salmon. On their way to the sea; and as they made the long journey to return home to spawn. “It is all about the water and I have seen it.”

Prayer: God, we read John’ revelation and Sam’s words calling attention to your water. We also see where restoration and new life are needed in your creation. As we await your return, may we together work for the healing of the water and land. Amen.

Sam Davis retired from the Lewiston, Idaho munitions factory in 1994. He began fishing regularly on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Sam is Nez Perce and has family living on the Nez Perce Reservation. He knows fishermen from many tribes, meeting them at boat launches and along the river banks. He encourages young people to learn the Native arts of fishing. “I’ve got grandsons and all my family; I think about them growing up. They were proud I got to go here. It’s a very spiritual place and I am a Presbyterian.”

Advent is about the need for Jesus and for God’s healing restoration of the world.

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