"The wise man said just find your place…"
Dateline: Bull Shoals, Arkansas
I didn't know if I was saying hello or goodbye.
To my wife.
If it was goodbye, then the last words she heard from me would be, "Love ya babe…"
And that would be how it should be.
And that would be how it should be.
If the tornadoes around me, sucked me up from the earth.
"…in the eye of the storm…"
I was driving from Connecticut to the Bassmaster Elite Series TroKar Quest event in Bull Shoals, Ark.…crossed from the East Coast to the Mid-West and my weather radio was screaming….a tornado WATCH here….a WARNING there…
…and my cell phone went dead.
…and I was driving in a wall of water.
…and the trees were bent to the breaking bend.
…and my headlights were on high.
And it was Noon.
"…seek the roses along the way…"
I drove and thought of my family.
Both of them.
I thought of my wife Barb, kids Ashley and Jimmy…even thought of the dog Riley.
When I said goodbye to them, was it really, you know….GOODBYE.
And then I also thought of my other family…the family of Elites.
Hundreds of people…anglers…their families…the workers of B.A.S.S….the media people of JM Associates…all traveling to Bull Shoals…all traveling around, and scarily through, the most savage storms this planet can throw at us.
And I choked up.
For both families that I love.
"…just beware of the thorns…"
And I drove through the night of the day.
And I drove through the lake that dropped from the sky.
And I drove through the wind that chases us.
When it happened.
When it came.
And it was at that moment, I understood.
Understood, the sunset to be an apology.
An apology for the horrors of the day.
Understood, the sunrise to be an apology for the horrors of the night.
Comes, the beauty.
Comes, the beast.
Comes, the Elites.
"…hear this voice from deep inside…"
Play for me when I'm sick.
Play for me when I die.
Play for the beauty.
Stop not for the beast.
Know this, no matter what shape I'm in, I want you to play. No matter what…play on…live on…love on…have zest…swing for the fences.
Thousands of people all around us in other states, counties, towns, neighborhoods have had their lives ripped apart and sucked up from the earth, several of people just like us, were killed, and there is always a question…should the games be played.
And the answer to that, should always be…
Because it is our job, those of us who were not in the path of the violence, it is our job, to help.
It is our job to keep normal in the world.
We should all help the victims.
We should all pray for the victims.
But we all need to save, normal…save the place in life before life turned upside down.
It is our main job to not bring them water.
Not bring them clothes.
But to bring…normal.
Bring them the help they need to get back to normal.
Normal is what we all need.
"…it's the call of your heart…"
No one is thinking of calling off the Elite event in Bull Shoals, not even close, but I do know more than a few Elite anglers who when they are finished on the B.A.S.S. stage…will climb into their dually’s and drive to the hard hit areas…
…and pitch in to help.
To know these guys and their families as well as I do, is to also know how deep is their faith.
I went to dinner the other night and at the dinner table Alton Jones lead a Bible study group…each angler at the table took their turn reading from the Bible.
I was moved not so much by the words they read, but by how they said the words, and how they came together to SAY the words.
It was a spiritual moment whether you believe in the specific words, or not.
My roommate, Paul Elias, reads every morning from a book called, Jesus Calling, Devotions for Every Day of the Year.
"It brings me peace, wisdom to face the day."
My other roommate, Shaw Grigsby, told me, "My faith is everything…it's HUGE in my life…it is the basis for what I do on and off the water."
"…close your eyes and you will find…"
I find in both Paul and Shaw, and many others out here on the tour, a gentleness.
I find in them, Kindness.
I find in them, Forgiveness.
I see the sacrifice they make.
I see the compassion they have.
Whether they face the beauty, I see all of that.
Whether the face the beast, I see all of that.
And from them I have learned this.
Faith will never help us compete.
Faith will never help us on stage.
Faith happens when we help each other.
Faith happens when we know that we will help each other.
And then do so.
Faith is when we are Elite…
…on or off…
As those around me, are.
"…the passage out of the dark."
“Send Me An Angel”