It was a bright sunny day on a Wisconsin lake whose name I have forgotten. I was sitting in an aluminum boat with my older brother and a fishing guide named Gary. We were casting our lures into the water some 70 feet offshore when I observed a bright green snake moving towards the boat. (It’s an odd thing to see a snake slither across the water’s surface. At the time, I didn’t know that snakes could float, much less swim.) Evidently, he wanted to join us, but Gary redirected him with an oar when he neared the boat. Back then I hadn’t thought to ask the courageous green messenger what he wanted to tell me. I wish I had, perhaps I would have become conscious sooner of things I have later learned, such as:
1) Fishing is important. Not so much fishing for fish, but fishing the waters of the unconscious. It is important to catch your dreams, learn from them, and dialogue with your inner self. It is important to seek out the life within and get to know the different creatures (aspects of yourself) that reside there. A life of meaning and worth requires that you develop a living relationship with your psyche and God. The food of the soul sustains you.
2) Having a guide is invaluable. You can learn something about fishing from a book or video. You can strike out on your own and learn solely by trial and error. But a guide helps you to learn faster. A guide knows where the fish are, and also the snags. He knows the contour of the lake and its different moods. He knows where to seek shelter when a storm rolls in. He is familiar with the different characters that inhabit your larger personality. And when you catch a lamprey but call it a salmon, he cares enough to set you straight. His instincts and intuition go beyond the written word. God put him/her in your life for a reason.
3) Jesus walked on water and was a “fisher of men.” The snake is a symbol of the psyche. It glides atop the water and befriends those who are fishers of the soul.