GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman, Battle of the Books

GAFF: And The Battle of the Books
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the April 2012 Newsletter]


Priscilla was reading from the Course. “’The continuing will to remain separated is the only possible reason for continuing guilt feelings.’ And later it says, ‘Any decision of the mind will effect both behavior and experience.’”

The three friends were sitting on Gaff’s spot, watching the clouds float across the sky and the pelicans dive for food. In the silence, each contemplated the meaning of the passage. Gaff silently asked the birds to leave him at least one fish for the cooler. He hadn’t caught many that day and he had promised his family a dinner of fresh grilled fish.

Bobby smiled, “Well, if you always come out of love, you won’t do anything to feel guilty about.”

Priscilla tapped his knee and smiled her agreement. She looked as though she were about to speak.

Just then Wally’s voice reached them from the land side of the beach. “Just the people I wanted to see.” Gaff turned around to see Wally bearing down on them, a big grin on his face. When he saw Gaff turn toward him, he waved a book. “It’s all in here. You’re always bashing me for my sermons about the Apocalypse that’s going to destroy the earth. Well, here’s another book describing the very thing you say won’t happen.”

Gaff grinned, “And what book might that be?”

Wally slammed the book on the palm of his other hand. “It’s not even a man of the cloth. And he prophesies the end of the world—and soon, too.”

Priscilla glanced at the book, one about Paul Solomon and the messages he got while in trance. She smiled. “Bet you haven’t gotten to the end of it.”

Wally frowned. “How do you know that?” He looked at the page with a corner turned down. “Page 195.” He closed the book and looked at the other three. “That’s enough to see where he’s going with it. End of the world. And not a pretty one. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the start of all hell breaking loose. And those guys in the Middle East are going to bring it down on all of us. Bombs. Nuclear. A third of the people on the planet will bite the dust.”  His expression was smug and not just a little proud that his point of view was supported by the descriptions of death and destruction he was reading.

Priscilla’s grin got bigger, but she didn’t say anything.

Wally looked from one to the other of his friends, finally burst out, “What? What are you smiling about? This proves my point. Gonna tell the story from the pulpit this very weekend. “ He nodded, pleased with himself.

Gaff looked at Priscilla. “I’m guessing you’ve read that book.”

She nodded.

Gaff turned back to Wally. “I have, too.”

Wally looked at Bobby. “You, too?”


Wally plopped down on the sand. “I was beginning to think I was the only one coming late to this read. It was published in the ‘90’s. Found it on the shelf at the Rectory.” His smug expression gone, he looked at Gaff and Priscilla. “I’m guessing from the looks on your faces that he talks about something good happening after the earth is destroyed. A field of daisies or something like that.”

Priscilla chuckled. “You remember in the beginning of the book he says that a prophecy that comes true is one that has failed?”

Wally frowned. “Ye-e-es?”

She continued, “Right where you’re reading now, he’s talking about a lot of people through the ages who predicted a horrible final act.”

Wally opened the book to the marked place and glanced through several pages. “Yep. That’s what he did. Some really important, credible people mentioned in this chapter.”

Gaff was enjoying this. “You haven’t gotten to the place where he talks about how to avoid it?”

Wally closed the book. “He does?”

“He does.”

Now Wally looked suspicious. “And how would this be done?”

Priscilla was really grinning now. “By feeling only love. By getting rid of any other feeling and only acting out of love.”

Gaff glanced at the tip of his rod to find it wiggling: something big was on the line. “Yep, the way that guy describes the remedy– it is to get rid of duality.”

Priscilla cut in, “You know, like love/ hate. You get rid of the hate part and keep the love part. That’s the same thing this book says.” She tapped the book resting on her knees.

Wally glanced at the black book under Priscilla’s hand. “A Course in Miracles. You’ve mentioned it before. I’ve read that it is absolute blasphemy.”

She nodded. “You have, have you? In fact, the part I was reading just now says that no one needs to feel guilty.”

Wally hurrumphed. “You see. Blasphemy! What about feeling guilty when you do evil?”

Priscilla went on, “The only reason we continue to feel guilty is so that we can feel separate from God.”

Bobby added, “I think the most important thing is what it says about believing stuff like the end of the world coming.”

Wally sniped. “And what would that be?”

“What you believe influences your feelings about situations. Because if you expect to see something bad, you’re leaning in that direction anyway and you’ll interpret things as leading to the end you envision. Your feelings influence the way you act, too. So if you decide that the end of the world is coming, you’ll be fearful and every time a comet is spotted nearby, you’ll think it’s going to crash into the planet and kill us all. Then you’ll act afraid, maybe hide… or lash out at others.”

Gaff added, “Worse yet, you might wage war against the people you think are going to cause the end of the world… and that would only add to the problem. Fighting begets fighting.”

Wally was nodding, thoughtful. But his face said he was looking for the flaw in their logic.

Priscilla said, “This whole book is about learning to think loving thoughts in all situations. ”

Wally spoke slowly, “So I’m supposed to stand there and let people attack me and knock me around?”

“Are they attacking you… really?”

Wally was trying on this idea. “So if I think the world will end in flames, I may also do things to bring that end on? The reverse of what you’ve told me in the past– to be more accepting and loving so that others can love me.”

“Here’s a thought. If you fear that the world is going to burst into flames, that’s thinking that there’s something out there ready to DO it to you. If you feel only love for the whole and you feel that you are a part of that whole, you are creating the future for yourself. You are the created AND the creator. If you act out of love, why would you create anything that was not loving?”

Wally nodded slowly, deep in thought. “Let me see if I’ve got this. Feel that I am a part of the whole universe. And so I can create what I want for the universe. If I act out of love all the time, then whatever I do create will be loving… always!”

“If you feel guilty or afraid, you are feeling separate from God.”

Wally pounded his fist on the book.”What about all those people out there who are waging a war of terrorism in order to kill me and my family? Am I supposed to love them?”

Gaff nodded. “Isn’t that what Jesus taught?”

Another hurrumph.

Bobby laughed. “I think it works in both directions. You feel a part of God, the ultimate source of love, and you’re so full of love that there’s no room for fear or guilt. Or, if you feel only love, you know that love is all around you, and that enables you to feel that you are part of God!”

Wally looked at Priscilla’s book. “Hmm, that’s in your book there?” He held up his own book. “And this one, too? Maybe I need to finish reading this book before I start quoting it.”

The three friends laughed. Gaff said, “I think you’ll like the end.” Then he stood to move toward his rod. He motioned toward it. “And I’m going to like what’s on the end of my line! Those birds may just have left some fish to jump on my hook after all. Julia and my kids are going to love pulling this one off the grill.”

Priscilla stood next to him as his rod bent from the weight of the catch. “It’s a big one! You are always taken care of by the Source of all Love and by your friends out there. WE are part of the whole.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman, Ocean of Plenty

GAFF: And The Ocean of Plenty
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the March 2012 Newsletter]

Priscilla and Bobby remained with Gaff even as the rest of the crowd drifted away down the beach to whatever they were doing before Bobby hooked THE BIG ONE. They were watching the spectacle of life in the ocean before them. Appreciating the nuances and the synergy. Listening to the crashing waves and the calling birds. Smelling the salt in the damp air brushing against their skin. Feeling the prickles of the sand carried by the wind against their legs.

Suddenly, Priscilla turned to Gaff. “I’ve been wondering what you do with all the fish you catch, Gaff. You’re out here on the beach so much you must have tons of fish stored at home by now.”

Bobby laughed. “She’s got a good question there, you know. Been wondering that myself. Either your freezer is the size of Iowa or your family have all grown scales and fins by now!”

Gaff laughed with a genuine twinkle in his eyes. “Good question. Especially after all my talk about being a steward of the planet.”

Bobby laughed. “That’s right.”

Gaff got more serious. “You know that fish fry the Reverend Wally’s church had last week? The money was for their scholarship fund to help some of the local children get an education.”

Bobby turned to him, grinning now. “Your fish?”

Gaff smiled toward Mother Water. “Our fish. Mother Water provided those fish and a bunch of us along the beach donated them to the cause. We do that from time to time.”

Priscilla screwed her face into a frown. “Wasn’t that the first fish fry Wally had?”

Gaff nodded, “The Methodists have an outreach to help families in need. A lot of groups do. There’s more need now, what with the economy so bad and jobs going overseas.”

Bobby kicked the sand. “I guess you either buy American stuff or you pay to support the people put out of work.”

The silence that followed was filled with thinking, serenaded by sounds of the waves and calling of the gulls.

Priscilla’s voice was small. “Bobby, would it be all right to give Harold some of the fish in our freezer? I know he hasn’t been on the beach this winter because of his arthritis. And we’ll never eat all we have. He’s always so friendly when I walk past his house. Waves—offers me tea and cookies. Probably lonely since his wife died.”

Gaff went to tend his fishing gear and they followed him. “Be nice to visit him, but I don’t think Harold needs any fish just now.”

Priscilla nodded with understanding. “Oh.”

“You might offer some to Ivy for her family, though.”

Priscilla frowned again. “What? That horrible woman who can’t talk below a roar? Why would I give her anything but a cold shoulder?”

Bobby grinned. “You could offer her a visit to a counselor. Or a gaff on her noggin to knock some sense into her.”

Gaff baited his hook and then turned to look at Priscilla. “Remember that you are the one interpreting her behavior… and you really don’t KNOW what it means. You also told me that you often don’t know what is in your own best interests.”

Bobby poked a finger into her ribs, “Ya hungry? I think you’re gonna eat your words here.”

Priscilla put hands on hips and watched Gaff with interest. “OK?”

Gaff cast his hook into the channel in front of the sandbar. “ Don’t I remember your saying that one of the lessons is that you don’t know what anything is for?”

She repeated, “OK?”

He continued, “That can apply to Ivy’s yelling. You don’t know why she is that way. You also don’t know how you might change the situation by just being nice to her.”

Priscilla grinned. “Oh, ho ho. I’d be the only one on the beach.” She hesitated a beat. “Except maybe for you. You’re nice to everyone.”

Gaff set the reel and placed the second rod into its holder. Bobby was finished tending his gear, too, and the three friends made their way back to their seats. Plop, plop, plop into the chairs.

Gaff continued as if there had been no gap in the conversation. “Maybe she needs a gal friend who is studying The Course?”

Priscilla responded slow and low. “May…be?”

Gaff laughed. “Didn’t you tell me that my attack thoughts were what attacked my own invulnerability? And that ‘Above all else, I want to see things differently’? Well this your chance to act on those words.”

Bobby chuckled. “Bet you’re not hungry now—those words tasty?”

Priscilla’s frown returned. “What you’re saying is that I have no idea what’s going on in her life to cause her obnoxious behavior and that I should assume that there is some good in her. Maybe if I make some friendly gestures toward her…”

Bobby interrupted, “You can add some sunshine to her life… the same as you add that sunshine to mine.” He was still smiling, but this smile radiated love for Priscilla.

Gaff patted her on the back. “This will give you a chance to practice turning the other cheek and being a model of performing random acts of loving kindness.”

Bobby pulled his bait knife out of his cooler and a sharpening stone out of his sack. “Just remembered to do this little task. Just to cut my bait. Not to use on Ivy.” All three laughed.

Gaff laughed the loudest. “Glad to hear it.”

Three sets of eyes took in the swells out in the distance and the clouds rolling in from the southwest. Gaff was hoping that Priscilla could make inroads where he had not. He was wondering how he could help her reach Ivy.

Bobby ran the blade along the stone, first one way and then the other. Slow, purposeful, the scraping sound a regular rhythm. Finally, he voiced his thoughts. “And what is Priscilla to do if Ivy starts yelling at her?”

Gaff shook his head, a line etched between his eyes. “You’re not being asked to sacrifice yourself, but only to offer a blessing. She may or may not accept it. We can only hope. You’re choosing differently and at the same time you’ll offer her a chance to choose differently. Remember what the Course tells you about being invulnerable. You’re invulnerable because you have the best backup. What I do in times of doubt is to open myself to guidance from the Holy Spirit through Mother Water. She really pulls through when I need her. I have only to ask… and then to listen.”

Priscilla said slowly, “So I go over to visit Ivy with a bunch of fish from our freezer.”

Bobby interrupted, grinning. “And you could take some of those great cookies you bake.”

“OK, cookies and fish. Then I see what happens… and it would be good to expect a miracle while I’m at it.”

Gaff smiled. “Might help to ask for divine assistance before you knock on her door. Then if things don’t go well, you walk away. If they do, you stay and make a new friend.”

Priscilla smiled. “Can’t have too many friends.”

Gaff continued, “Whatever happens, it is divine order. It isn’t your responsibility to change another person. You are there to act differently yourself, to put into action the words you’ve been reading. Sometimes by seeing things differently and by acting from that new understanding, the whole situation changes.”

Bobby smiled a sly one. “Might ask for protection before you knock.”

Priscilla was quiet for a spell and then her face suddenly brightened. She straightened her back and looked full of energy and determination. “I’ll do it. She’s about due for another stay. Spring break’s this week and they always come for spring break.” She hopped out of her chair and called over her shoulder on her way toward the boardwalk. “Think I’ll go bake some cookies… just in case.”

Bobby laughed. “It worked. She bakes so many of those cookies that I’ll get some, too!” He cut his eyes toward Gaff and added, “I can bring some to the beach, too.”

Gaff patted his stomach. “What were we saying about not consuming more than we need?”

Bobby laughed, “I’ll only bring you two then.”

The tip of Gaff’s rod was wiggling to beat the band: a fish on his hook. He pushed himself out of his chair to tend to the new gift from Mother Water. As he moved, he answered, “Take more than two!”

Bobby stroked his knife back and forth across the stone. “And now we fish to help others! You are full of wisdom, Gaff. You always help me see things differently.”

“Mother Water helps us by giving us fish and we pay it forward by helping people not yet ready to fish for themselves.”

Bobby’s hand stopped mid-stroke. “Do they ever learn to fish for themselves?”

Gaff stood with rod in hand and looked first at Mother Water. Then he turned toward Bobby. “Most times they do, but not everyone becomes a prize-winning fisherman who hooks the BIG ONE! We just need to have faith in them. They are where they are meant to be and they’re doing their best.” He turned back to tend his gear, all the while thanking Mother Water for her help and sending healing energy to her.

Bobby dragged the knife against the stone. In low tones he said, “Faith… and patience… takes a bunch of patience.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman, Land of Plenty

GAFF: And The Land of Plenty
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the February 2012 Newsletter]

Bobby laughed as he reeled in his second fish of the morning. This one wasn’t giving up without a fight. He was lost in the thrill of it all, yelling to his prey that he would not be bested by scale-covered muscles. The fish on his hook was so strong, the rod bent almost double as he worked it. All the muscles in his arms tensed as he pulled. Then he reeled in the slack in his line ending with a step toward the water. Straining to pull his catch closer and then reel in as much as he could before his opponent could swim back out over the sandbar. Muscles pitted against muscles. Arms against fins. A battle to the finish, if Bobby had anything to do with it.  A battle to get his aquatic opponent onto the beach and then into his cooler and eventually home to his freezer. Priscilla would just love this one: easy to fillet. Big and juicy on the table. Tasty.

Gaff laughed, too, enjoying his friend’s excitement. A number of people from up and down the beach were gathering for the spectacle of landing the BIG ONE. This one might even be prize-winning: a great way to start the fishing season. And everyone was cheering for him to finish it off, to best the monster fish!

The splash of fins on the sandbar brought cheers from the crowd. Gaff and a number of the other fishermen ran into the water to see what Bobby had on his hook. Suddenly, several of them turned toward the shore, waving their arms and shouting. Bobby             couldn’t make out the words from that distance. He only heard men’s voices mingled with the crashing waves.

Gaff was faster getting in than the rest, “We have to cut the line. Cut the line to let her go!”

The crowd moaned in unison. Chaos erupted as everyone spoke at once, wondering what was happening.

Bobby was stunned motionless. “What?”

Gaff ran to his cooler and grabbed a knife. As he passed, he shouted, “She’s loaded with eggs. Hasn’t spawned yet. Hold the line steady so I can cut it.”

Bobby answered with his own shout, “Cut the line? Are you crazy, old man? This is the biggest I’ve ever hooked. I want to bring her in, finish it. Man over beast.”

Several of the other fishermen were yelling, “Cut the line. Cut the line.”

Others answered, “No, let him bring her in. There’s others. There’s plenty. Let him bring her in.”

Gaff was out on the sandbar now and with a sure swipe of the knife, cut the line. The line went suddenly slack and Bobby had to do some sand dancing to keep from falling. A flash on the sandbar, movement of fins and the fish was out to deeper water.

Bobby yelled at the men on the sandbar, “What right have you to cut my line? That was my fish and I wanted to bring it in.”

Gaff led the other men onto the beach, “She was big and filled with eggs. Fish that big wouldn’t have been this close to shore if she wasn’t on her way to or from the estuary. Only way we have any fish at all is if we let the females spawn.” There were sounds of agreement from the experienced fishermen.

Gaff waved toward Mother Water. “She isn’t just there to serve us. It’s a partnership. We have responsibilities, too.”

Bobby spit out his words, still angry, “Yeah, I know. You harp on keeping the beach clean.”

Gaff interrupted, “We also follow the rules set out by the smart guys who tell us how big our catch has to be and how many we can keep. We do that because we want to leave enough little ones in there to grow into something worth eating. We are stewards of this planet, not just another group of predators.”

There were nods and sounds of agreement from onlookers. Some were grumbling and groups were breaking off to return to their own spots. Some heated versions of this discussion moved away with them.

Bobby was boiling mad. “The birds take more fish out than we do. What about the commercial fishermen? They pull in tons of fish with those nets of theirs. Bet they don’t let the females go.”

Some of the crowd agreed with Bobby. Gaff knew that any response would fall on deaf ears, ears not yet ready to hear, and so he hesitated. In that moment of quiet, Priscilla’s voice preceded her out of the crowd….

……… “I do not perceive my own best interests.”

She made her way to stand next to the two arguing men. “Bobby, don’t you remember the lesson for today? ‘I do not perceive my own best interest’.”

Bobby wasn’t ready to concede defeat yet. “What does that have to do with the price of eggs?”

Priscilla laughed. “The higher view, from what is important for the planet, says it has a lot to do with the price of eggs. If we eat all the chickens, there won’t be any eggs. Even if you were starving, it’s better to leave some of those old biddies scratching around the coop so you can eat their eggs… for years to come. Not just today.”

Bobby started to repeat himself, “But the commercial fishermen”

She interrupted, “Just because someone shoots another person out of anger, does that mean you should shoot me when we argue? You’re pretty mad at Gaff. Should you shoot him?”

Bobby looked at the sand, abashed.

She continued, “I agree with Gaff, that each of us has a responsibility to care for this planet.”

His voice was small, “So we are kind to the planet so that the guys out in the boats can fill their nets.” It wasn’t so much a question as a statement. “We’re only individuals, single fishermen that dot the beaches along the coast. What can we do in that grand scheme of things you talk about?” His words were punctuated by the calls of the gulls and the crash of waves on sand.

Gaff smiled, “We are a nation of individuals, a world of individuals, and each of us has a responsibility to all the rest. I can only decide for me. You have to decide for you. And the more of us doing what we can to protect the planet, the more powerful we become. Individuals become a group become a crowd become a mob. Eventually those guys in the boats out there will get the idea and be more careful, too.”

A voice from behind them added, “I heard the government is thinking about shutting down the shrimping lane to let the population recover a bit.”

Another voice added, “About time, I’d say.”

Then another, colored with bravado, “You know, we can shrimp in the mouth of the Cape Fear River. But just individuals in their own boats. Near the estuary.”

Priscilla laughed, “Why would you do that? So you can deplete the supply faster? Net younger and younger shrimp so that they don’t have time to grow to a decent size and repopulate the lanes?”

She was answered by a soft voice, “Hadn’t thought of that. I was just thinking about how tasty they’d be.”

Priscilla’s voice softened. “Is it wise to eat the chickens or can you wait to eat their eggs for years to come?”

Gaff smiled at this exchange. “So that book of yours agrees with the idea of thinking beyond what you would like to see happen in this moment to what this moment might mean in the grand plan.”

Priscilla grinned. “We’re going through the lessons again this year, one by one. It’s like I’ve never seen some of them. So far, we’ve just been talking about the idea that our interpretation of a situation isn’t always accurate. It’s often based on fears or a belief in scarcity.” She waved in the direction of the ocean. “The book would say that our interpretation of that water over there may not be right. It might be something we’ve come up with to suit our own needs, our own view of the world.”

Bobby laughed, “Maybe Gaff’s way of looking at that water is the best: Mother Water, an expression of the Source. A connection with God.”

Priscilla looked toward the blue-green water. Her voice was soft. “Not just a source of food for the body, but a source of food for the soul, for the spirit.”

Gaff grinned, but his voice was almost reverent. “She’s there to help and guide us by example. Her creatures teach us so many lessons. She is a constant source of nurturing. The sea of unlimited potential.” His words drifted as he watched the swells far out on the ocean.

Bobby chuckled without humor. “OK, OK…the problems start when we humans decide that we know better and act stupid and selfish. But she really knows how to slap us in the face… hurricanes and all.” He, too, sought a connection with the water, the great source of life. Fluffy clouds skittered across the blue sky making a background for the birds diving for their dinner. Waves crashed on the sand, mixing with the calls of the hungry birds. A beautiful tableau to entertain and instruct.

Had Bobby gotten a glimpse of the whole rather than being so distracted by his little slice of that whole? Some old fishermen stayed behind after the others drifted on down the beach. They shook Bobby’s hand and congratulated him, both on the BIG ONE he almost caught and his wisdom for letting her go so she could do her part in adding to the minnow population. More for the hook next year.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman Gift of Ivy

GAFF: And The Gift of Ivy

Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the December 2011 Newsletter]

A woman’s voice came across the sand from the walkway. “I’m going to scream! That woman is driving me to distraction.”

Gaff watched gulls diving into the waves until Priscilla plopped down on the cooler next to him. Emotional energy overflowed her every cell and her every movement and radiated across the beach. He smiled. “And what woman would that be?”

“That woman from Georgia, Ivy. Isn’t there some beach closer to her home that she could visit? Why does she have to pollute ours with all her yelling? The tone of her voice could singe the feathers off those gulls.”

Gaff looked from his visitor to the gulls. The very thought of Ivy setting their feathers aflame made him chuckle. “I have to admit she has a mouth on her. How’d she get you going this morning?”

“I was walking on my way here when I passed her rental. She and her neighbor are in the yard fighting about the fact that his drying laundry is blocking her view. You can hear them for miles.”

Gaff checked the tips of his rods to see that he was getting a nibble. “Again.” Not a question, but a statement. “They’re not likely to ever come to an understanding. Probably for the best.”

Priscilla’s head jerked toward her friend. “What? You think it’s good that they fight all the time. Noise pollution, I’d call it.”

Gaff nodded at the gulls calling all around them. “Are the gulls creating noise pollution?”

Priscilla face dropped, but she blurted out, “Of course not. That’s part of nature. They’re supposed to be here.”

Gaff nodded thoughtfully. “Since you mention the Course, what would it say about all this?”

Her laugh broke the tension. “And now you’re going to make me see a lesson from the Course in this?”

Gaff patted her arm. “I was just wondering how all that fits together.”

“OK, what I see has only the meaning that I give it. So if I see it as bad, it is only  because I define it as bad.”

He nodded. “OK?”

Her eyes became unfocused as she considered. “I react to things out there that remind me of things in me that I need to heal.”

“Didn’t you tell me it was the emotion about the situation that was the real key?”

Priscilla nodded. “Discernment and not judgement.”

“And you’re really angry about the way this woman expresses her anger.”

Another nod. “She’s constantly yelling. Ruins the peace.”

“And you feel a sense of righteous indignation, too.”

Another nod.

“So one thing that may be going on is that she reminds you of your own anger and maybe the way you used to express it or something about it that you don’t like in your self. Another is that she’s not behaving the way you think she should according to the path you have chosen… according to the Way of Love.”


Priscilla threw a handful of sand, a physical expression of her anger. “She isn’t.” Then she shielded her face from sand blown back at her by a sudden gust of wind.Gaff looked to the tips of his rods and thought he saw a hint that a fish had taken his bait. “That sand just came back on you and so will your anger. Are you acting in accordance with the Way of Love?”The corners of her mouth drooped in recognition of his truth. Her voice was low and slow. “I should look for the blessing in this, the lesson. Everything is as it is meant to be and to change it would be to interfere with the perfect way things have been arranged.”It was Gaff’s turn to nod. The wiggling of his rod motivated him to push out of his chair to tend to his fishing, to pull in the fellow on his hook. “Are those just words you memorized or are they a guiding light in your own life, for your own behavior? To use the Course as a reason to attack another person—is that what was intended by those teachings?”

She followed Gaff to the rods, a morose expression on her face. “So Ivy is here doing just what she is meant to do to remind me to accept that each person has his own path and they don’t all look like mine.”

Gaff reeled in the first hook to find a large whiting on it. He smiled his appreciation. “That’s one thing. Another is that when Ivy is fighting with her neighbor, she’s not yelling at her family. Gives them a vacation, wouldn’t you say?”

Priscilla smiled. “I can see that. That would be a blessing for her family.”

The sound of the second hook being reeled in provided the background music. “What about all she does for her neighbor?”

Priscilla’s face was colored by exaggerated confusion. “What would that be?”

“His wife’s sick and he’s sick at heart about it. Maybe he uses that laundry to give Ivy an opening to start the yelling match so that he can get some of his anger out in a safe way.” Gaff put the fish into the cooler and pulled out enough bait for the two hooks. “He can’t very well scream at his wife for being sick or rail at God for taking her away. After all, he’s a devout church-goer.”

Priscilla nodded and smiled her recognition of a truth. “So Ivy gives him a way to vent all that pain? It only sounds like anger.”

The reel sang as baited hook sailed out into the water. “And the father who isn’t involved with his children teaches his children to spend more time with their own.”

“And the Ugly American tourist allows the residents of that country to value by contrast the reasoned traveler. One trying to force the culture into what he is used to and the other understanding the value of fitting into their culture.”

Another nod. “Like you trying to force Ivy to conform to your shoulds? The demanding tourist may also provide others with examples of what not to do.”

“The lesson can come in the form of what to do or what not to do.”

Gaff grinned. “We could go on and on, couldn’t we? Once you understand that every situation is as it is meant to be, you’re free to see the blessing in it. You’re free to break the hold of ‘shoulds’ that constrict your ability to appreciate the way things are.”

They returned to their seats, each thinking. Priscilla’s voice was filled with awe. “What a gift! Once you live this way, you can find happiness in any situation.”

“And in any person. Maybe that was the gift the Christ came to give us.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF: Let All Things Be

Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the November 2011 Newsletter]

Priscilla’s voice came to Gaff from the land side of the beach. “Hallo! Another fabulous day in paradise!”

Gaff grinned, but he waited for Priscilla to reach him before responding, “That it is. That it is.” His eyes searched the water and the sky.

Priscilla’s eyes followed his gaze to the fluffy clouds scudding across the blue field of the sky. Background music was provided by crashing waves and gulls calling. Her voice was colored with awe, “I love this place.”

Gaff only nodded his agreement. He turned to see the black book in Priscilla’s hands. “Doing more of those lessons?”

It was her turn to nod. “I got a bit behind, but this one seems to summarize it all for me right now. ‘Let all things be exactly as they are.’”

Again he nodded and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving to Mother Water.

Priscilla sat on his cooler, resting the book in her lap. “I was heading to Sally’s when I got the urge to come visit you… You’ve heard me complain about all the things in my life that haven’t gone the way I hoped. Difficulty getting published. The loves that ended before I was ready for them to. Bobby said that you two talked about how we were turned away from visiting the Indian sacred grounds when we went to the reservation.”

Gaff nodded, remembering.

She laughed. “I’ve been reading that we learn from the problems as much or more than from the successes, from the relationships that cause us pain as much as from the happy ones. And then this lesson tells me that everything is exactly as it was planned… and that I shouldn’t try to change them. I get from it that the lessons are there just where they need to be and just the way they need to be.”

Again a nod. Then Gaff spied the tip of his rod jiggling up a storm—a fish on the hook. He pushed himself out of his chair to tend his rods. Priscilla followed.


“If I’d married Evan, I wouldn’t have come here alone and I wouldn’t have met you… or Bobby. At the time, I didn’t think that anyone could be better than Evan, but I know that Bobby is perfect for me.”            “We get plenty of proof that the Source knows more than we do.” He fought the fish to reel in his hook. It was a big one throwing itself all over the sand trying to beat its way back to the water. That’s the way it happens most times: fighting the deviation from our plans.

Priscilla gave a thumbs up to show her appreciation of the fish. “I’ve been saying that things are in divine order and hear you say it, but only when I read this lesson did it really hit me. I mean, I suddenly saw the whole picture for the first time. By seeing that everything is perfect just as it is, I realize that I waste time and energy trying to force things to change.”

Gaff put the fish in his cooler and took out more bait. “If you do manage to change the way things are going, you might even muck it up.”

Priscilla grinned. “The friends who have come and gone in my life. The romances…”

Even that annoying woman whose hobby is yelling at her family and anyone else close enough to hear. And the Ugly American tourist who disrupts the peace in order to get his own way.”

Priscilla suddenly turned to walk toward Sally’s house and called over her shoulder, “Every one of these things serves to make us better if we allow ourselves to benefit from the lesson in them.”

“It’s all in the way you see them, isn’t it?”

Priscilla’s “Oh, yes!” drifted to Gaff on the wind.

Oh, yes.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF: God is But Love
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*

[as it appeared in the October 2011 Newsletter]

Gaff laughed, entertained by antics of swooping and diving seagulls. He nodded toward them. “They might all be a part of the same system, but they each fight to get the biggest piece. Don’t think it’s nature’s way for one bird to give the larger portion of food to the bird diving next to him.”

Priscilla giggled at the thought. “You take it… No, you take it… No, I insist. You take it. It’s much bigger than the fish you caught.”

Gaff reacted to her with a belly laugh. “Pelican would probably take both fish.”

Priscilla was sitting in Bobby’s chair on the other side of the cooler. Her eyes followed those of her friend and she laughed. “Yeah, we humans have some strange ideas. Leaving some food on your plate so that the hostess won’t think you didn’t have enough to eat! Silly, really.”

Gaff turned to her, more serious now. “It is silly, but a lot of those customs are a shorthand way of communicating with people around you. Ways of showing respect, too, some of them.”

She nodded, in silent thought.

He yawned and turned toward the sun. “You haven’t been around much lately.”

A shake of her head. She reached into her bag and pulled out a book. Waved it in his direction. “I’ve been taking some classes about making films at the local college. You know there’s a big film community in this area.”

It was his turn to nod. “Taking a break from studying those other books of yours? And doing the lessons in that workbook?” He looked at the tip of his rods to see if a fish was on the hook. No wiggle there. No jumping around.

Priscilla riffled through the pages of her book and then returned it to the bag. “Do that at night. And in the morning. Starts the day out right. Besides, I’ve had a few opportunities to apply the lessons from that book.”

Gaff chuckled as he pushed out of his chair to head toward his fishing rods. “Sounds like there’s a story in this…..


I need to check my lines before we get too deep into it.” He flipped a bail and reeled in first one hook and then the other to find his bait in tatters. “Looks like someone was eating around the bone here.”

Priscilla moved to join him on the sand. She laughed. Then she closed her eyes and turned her face toward the sun. “Never get tired of this.” She sighed her words into the wind.

Gaff paused, hands dropped to his side as he, too, turned a smiling face to the warmth of the sun. After a moment, he returned to his job. He cast both hooks, filled with bait, into the deep on the other side of the sandbar and put his hands in the water to rinse the fish juice from them. The friends went back to their chairs.

Priscilla closed her eyes to the sun and murmured, “Thank you, Mother Water, for all this glory.”

Gaff dried his hand on the towel as he asked, “And just how did you apply those lessons?”

Her head jerked upright. “Looking for a location to shoot the film I’m making for class. Has to be a beautiful old home with a window on a courtyard or some interesting walkway. So I looked at this historical home in Wilmington. You know, on that street of quaint old homes a block from the river.”

He nodded and the corners of his eyes crinkled in amusement. “Uh-hunh.”

She waved strands of hair out of the way and reached for a shell in the sand beside her. “Wasn’t right for the film, but the curator gave me a number for a neighbor down the way. Someone with a better view.”

“And you called.”

“When I did, a woman answered. I started into the explanation when she cut me off. Wouldn’t let me finish.”

“Yell at you?”

Priscilla threw the shell toward the water. “Not exactly, but her voice was hard and angry and her words…”

“Not helpful? Helpful like southern people are reputed to be?” He smiled at this last.

Priscilla turned toward him. “You know her? Sounds like you’ve got her number.”

“Na. But we’ve got a lot of people move down from the north. Takes ‘em a while to figure it out… that they don’t need to be afraid of everyone.”

Distracted momentarily by the loud squawking of the birds, she just shook her head for a bit. “She didn’t sound afraid. More like she was terribly hurt and wanted to hurt everyone she could to spread that pain around.”

“Don’t let it bother you. Maybe I can help you find another place.”

She turned a brilliant smile toward Gaff. “That’s just it. When she took a breath, I said in a soft voice that I really appreciated her kind help and hung up.”

Gaff grinned. “Good that you didn’t yell or pout about it.”

The smile brightened. “No, I did feel upset about the way she treated me and that she wasn’t at all helpful, but I didn’t feel angry. I just felt sad.”

Gaff nodded and looked toward the tip of his rod to see if there was a fish on the line. Maybe.

“When I got up this morning, I let the book fall open and read from that page. There were six lessons and they all said the same thing repeated again and again: ‘God is but Love, and therefore so am I.’”

Gaff’s brow squinched together indicating his confusion.

Priscilla threw her hands into the air. “Don’t you see? I was love.”

He shrugged, but still didn’t understand. “You were nice.”

“Yes, I was nice to her even as she was not nice to me. I thanked her for helping me even before I realized how much she had helped.”

“How’s that? How’d you think she helped you?”

“She was a test to see if I really learned those lessons.”

“And you passed.”

Priscilla’s grin was at its broadest. “I did pass. I wasn’t angry and I didn’t attack. I said, ‘Blessings to you,’ and I really meant it!”

“No hint of anger?”

The grin dimmed a bit. “I did feel hurt that she would attack me, a stranger.”

“And a nice person.”

“But when I thought about it, I realized that she might have been afraid. A total stranger called her home… and knew where she lived.”

“That would explain the fear, but the attack…”

Priscilla shrugged and ran hands through the sand. “As we said before, she was in pain and was dumping some of that on me. Maybe something happened to her at work… or she had a fight with her husband.”

Gaff laughed. “You sure are good at coming up with maybes.”

She looked intently at Gaff. “You always say that we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors… and it’s really none of our business. Whether it was something that happened that day or from a childhood filled with abuse, her pain was so great that it splatted out all over me.”

He tilted his head. “And you gave back Love instead of fear.”

“I did. I did. And the quotation this morning was perfect. I am Love.”

He laughed now. “I can hear Professor Doolittle saying, ‘She’s got it. I think she’s got it.’”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman


GAFF and the Panacea
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*

[as it appeared in the  August 2011 Newsletter]

Gaff could hear Wally as he stepped from the walkway onto the beach. “Those damned Jehovah’s Witnesses are at it again. Stopped me while I was jogging this morning. Giving me their pitch. Maybe I should wear some kind of symbol to let them know I’m a minister with a congregation. Don’t need them to tell me what to believe.”

“You could wear a collar on your tee shirt.” Gaff was laughing.

He could tell that Wally wasn’t amused as he plopped onto the cooler. “Then they’d think I was one of those Roman Catholic mackerel-snappers.”

Gaff checked the tip of his rod to see if he’d a fish on the line yet… nope. “You’re mighty ‘het’ up this afternoon, Wally. Maybe you’d better cool down … give your blood pressure a rest.”

Wally wiped sweat off his face. “Where do they get off saying that only 144,000 will be saved?”

“I think I read that somewhere in the Bible, maybe Revelations. But I don’t believe they’re the only ones saved. You know the translators didn’t understand all the symbolism in the numbers… that phrase may have a different meaning altogether.” The old fisherman ended his sentence by pushing himself out of the chair. He walked to check his rods.

“In the Bible, you say?” Then Wally mumbled, “Have to look that up when I get back home.” He got up to follow his friend to stand at the rod holders pushed into the sand.

Gaff took the first from its holder. “Even if it is there, is that the important thing? I mean, after all these centuries, is that the only thing that people think was important in Yeshua’s life?”

Wally spit out his answer, on the attack. “Jesus died to save our souls from sin.”

Gaff reeled in the first hook to find it empty. “Can’t catch fish without bait to get them to bite the hook.” The second hook had a small bit of fish on it that he removed to throw into the waves. “For you, Wally, the bait is the possibility to save your soul by accepting Jesus as your Savior. But other people see his passion and pain as modeling the way they should live this life… to pay their way into heaven with the suffering.”

Wally sputtered, “But, but…”

“Wally, we’re all different. I read about the good things that man did for others and the way he treated everybody the same and that’s what’s important to me. He showed me how important every single person is… every one of us.” Gaff pulled a fish from the cooler and cut pieces from it to use as bait.

Wally jammed his fists into his waist. “Of course he did good works to show that he was the Son of God. Proof of pedigree, you might say.”

Gaff cast the first hook into the deep water beyond the sandbar, set the hook, and returned the rod to its holder. “So you fight the Catholics and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and lots of others to see who’s right. You fight to see how many people you can get to come to your side in the argument.”

Wally stomped around in the sand, hands on hips, blood coloring his neck red on its way to his face. “I want to help people understand…”

Gaff cast the second hook into the water and set the rod into the holder. Then he turned to look his friend in the eye, “To understand your interpretation? Or to understand the Way of Love… His commandments to love everybody? I’ll bet you sometimes bash other religions from the pulpit, too. Not just here on the beach with me.”

Wally stopped moving to glare at Gaff, anger-meter nearing a dangerous level. “I talk about their shortcomings sometimes… And at Easter, it’s easy to see that the Jews killed Our Savior.” He jerked his chin to one side to underscore his point.

Gaff glanced at the tip of his rod once more before heading back to his chair. “Seems to me that Jesus’ ministry was all about how to create a heaven on earth by living in love all the time. Said it again and again.”

Wally lowered himself to sit on the cooler. “Unh, huh. I see that. I’ve studied the Bible.”

Gaff sat in his chair and dug his feet into the sand. “What would you say, Wally, if a man got cancer and went to the doctor. The doctor told him there was a cure and  then explained in detail how to do it. What if he told his patient how to change his diet and get more exercise and get rid of the stress in his life. Told the man to calm down and be more loving to his wife and children … to everybody he met. Told him these changes in his life would keep him healthy.”

Wally dug his hands in the sand, waiting. “They’d cure him? I’d say the man was lucky there was a cure. I think he should go right out and do some of these things.”

“What’d you say if the doctor gave the man written instructions about how to do this, how to live his life to cure his cancer? Instructions on how to be happy and healthy.”

Wally looked at the fisherman, confusion lining his brow. “That’d be great, I’d say. Filled with hope, I’d say.” He let sand trickle from one hand to the other.

Gaff smiled and looked to the ocean. “Days passed and the man didn’t make any changes in his life and he got sicker and sicker. But everyday he would take out that paper and read how there was a cure for his disease. And when he read it he would be happy just knowing about the cure. Hopeful, as you said.”

Wally dumped the sand back on the beach and wiped his hands on his shorts. “Man’s stupid. Has the cure right there, but doesn’t do anything about it. Just let’s himself get worse? Stupid.” He shook his head in disgust.

Gaff looked at the sky and then toward Mother Water. “You just said that Jesus told us how to create heaven on earth all those many years ago and yet you condemn other religions because they differ from yours. Is that curing the hate that’s fueled persecution and wars for centuries? He gave you example after example of how to include and love your fellow humans and yet you point to his story in the Bible while you encourage separation… exclusion. You tell everyone that your way is the right way, the only way.”

Wally shot to his feet. “Are you blaming me for all the hate in the world?”

Gaff shook his head slowly, “No, but the change has to start somewhere. Might as well be with us. ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Doesn’t say you have to agree with everything he says… only respect his right to an opinion.”

Wally sputtered, “Well… well.”

Gaff smiled at his friend. “It’s not good enough to read about the cure, we have to live it… to kill the cancer before it kills us… before it kills our planet. You’re wasting time fighting over the meaning of specific phrases when you can see the important part of the message. Why not live that?”

Wally jumped off the cooler and stormed down to the waves’ edge. He stomped his feet, splashing as he went. He kicked the waves and stooped down to pick something up… a shell maybe. He threw that something far out into the water. Gaff could see red in Wally’s face that wasn’t the gift of the sun. He shook his head in dismay.

Gaff watched and whispered, “Have I gone too far, Mother Water? I just wanted for him to finally see … and maybe even to make some changes in his life. He has a big congregation. Be good to get them on the boat, wouldn’t it?”

Suddenly, Wally marched up to Gaff, standing over him, angry. “I’m going to look up that reference to 144,000. Then I might write a sermon about ‘love thy neighbor.’ Might be good to remind my congregation about that part of the message.” He abruptly walked toward the walkway, determination pushing him along.

Gaff yelled after him, “You might give Father Reilly a hug the next time you see him, too. Call him ‘brother’ maybe.”

(The simile used in this article is from W. Alexander Wheeler © 1994.)


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.