“Let me tell you, I knew it was a BIG one,” Pastor Corey exclaimed.

The excitement in his voice gave way to motions of his body as he jumped from behind the pulpit and extended his arms. The buttons on his suit coat stretched against the button holes, his white shirt showed at the waist, and his tie bunched up. “I’d never felt anything like it," he said. "Even wondered for a moment if I’d snagged a whale.”

There was a chuckle in the congregation as one of Pastor’s hands squeezed an imaginary pole that flailed every which way, while his other hand circled as if working a reel. “I couldn’t even stand up,” he gasped.

Next thing I knew he was on the floor, feet bicycling the air, and body twisting as if he were in the bottom of the boat and bracing against the pull of the line. The position didn’t facilitate story-telling, so he shot up to his knees, panting. “I could see the silvery creature swish next the boat before he charged out to sea.” 

Pastor, still hanging onto the invisible pole, inhaled. “But I persisted, didn’t let go.”

He stood up, straightened his clothes, and flung out his arms again. “Eventually the 30-pound salmon quit the fight, and I could—with the help of a fishing partner and net—drag him into the boat.”

By the time Pastor’s act was over, all of us were in hysterics of laughter. We’d never seen our ever-proper preacher put on such a show.

He returned to the pulpit and waited for the uproar to subside. “It’s God’s way with us. We may be loaded down with the weight of sin; we may have rejected God all our lives; and we may expend every bit of our strength to get away from His boat. But He loves us enough to hold on until we get the message.” 

Pastor Corey paused before continuing. “Of course, God never forces His will on us, like I did with that fish. He just wants us to know that our sin is not too heavy for Him to forgive, nor our rejection too strong for His grace.

Dear Reader: I am thankful to Walt Windblad for this story. Walt attended my father’s church in Port Ludlow during the 80’s and 90’s, and phoned a couple of days ago to share this memory. Perhaps it will give you a chuckle as it did me. I hope you’ll stay posted for more and, if inclined, send me an encouragement to keep going on this mind-stretching adventure of writing about Arthur and Margaret Corey.

The next Sticks, Stones & Songs event, titled Tales and Tidbits, is sponsored by Marysville Historical Society on May 8, 5:30 PM, 6805 Armar Road, Marysville, WA 98270. More details on the Event Tab of www.eleanorcorey.com or on the Marysville Historical Society facebook page and on the facebook page of Sticks, Stones & Songs.