Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

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

[As it appears in the May 2011 Newsletter] 

            Chill was just drifting out to sea when Gaff arrived at the beach. May. School was still in session and the sun wasn’t quite hot enough to draw the hordes that crowded the sand during the summer. This was the weekend and there would be those visitors who wanted to get a jump on the fun, usually pushed by the kids. A smile. He missed those days with his children.

He unloaded chair, cooler, fishing rods. He pounded the flag into the sand beside his chair, awaking the thwap, thwap rhythm of its flapping. Sounds of people drifted his way. Up and down the beach he saw groups coming over walkways.

Cut bait. Family from the blue house was erecting a shade tent, laughing as they worked. Bait hooks. Little girl to his left squealed at the cold water and then splashed in giggling. Cast lines. Harsh yelling from somewhere behind. Greet Mother Water. Disturbance got closer. He sighed. Gaff shook his head because the harsh commands and screamed threats sounded familiar. What about his peace? The old fisherman turned to see the Clamorous Clan. He shrugged, watching.

Same ritual. Thrust and parry. Mother controlled; sons manipulated. Too bad. He hadn’t seen them in months, but they were still stuck, stuck in the unhealthy patterns. He turned to tend his lines, hoping for the big one. Maybe this time.

Her voice arrived before she did. “Hello, fisherman. You still here?”

He turned to see the mother of the Clamorous Clan marching down the beach in his direction. Gaff watched her as he waited, hands on hips. He shook his head at the frown dimming her light.

She shouted. “What are you so angry about? How could you be so pissed off this early in the morning?” She looked around his spot. “Looks like you just got here. Somebody made you mad already?”

He could see her misinterpretations, quick to anger. “Just got here.”

She looked at the giggling children in the surf just past him. “Those kids bothering you? You get so angry about kids playing in the waves, you ought to m
ove down the beach.”

He watched, more misinterpretations. There was movement behind her.

George Cauley was coming their way along the water line. He was limping pretty bad this morning and the scowl on his face told Gaff how much he hurt.

The CC mother was fussing about people in the house next door to their rental. Clothes always on the line and that blocked her view. On and on about how much laundry the woman did and it was always in the yard between her and the water. No consideration for other people. Why didn’t she use the dryer instead of line-drying clothes? They came for the water and that included the view from the house.

Gaff stuck his hand out toward her. “Name’s Gaff. I like to know people’s names.”

She stopped mid-sentence. “Oh, I’m Ivy.”  Her hand was limp. The touch was quick. He wondered what she was afraid of catching from the sign of friendship.

Just about then George got up next to them. “Mornin.’ Catch much?” His voice was gruff, gruffer than usual.

Gaff shook his head. “Nope. Early yet.”

George looked at Ivy and nodded a greeting. “I’ve seen you round.”

She glared at him. “We’re renting the Bell place. Got here yesterday.”

George frowned. “You’re the ones yelling all the time. I live next door and since you moved in there’s been no peace.”

Ivy’s feathers were so ruffled that she puffed up twice her normal size.

Gaff introduced them, hoping for a distraction. “Ivy this is George. George, Ivy.”

George was looking a little like a pufferfish himself. The color creeping into his face would make any beet proud. Gaff wondered if he would blow a gasket right here on the beach. Maybe a waterspout!!

Ivy went on with her previous thoughts. “You should keep your damned laundry in your house.”

This was overlaid by George’s shot. “Stay home to fight. People come here to rest and have a good time. Can’t even take a nap with you there. Go back home to yell and scream. Bet you can’t keep neighbors by tying them to the post.”

Gaff looked from one to the other and didn’t see any end of it without inserting himself into the fray. Hmmm. Behind George, Ivy’s husband buried his nose further in a book. The family behind him was watching, even the children stopped splashing to gawk. All up and down the beach, people were alarmed by the building fury. Ivy and George were oblivious to their audience.

Suddenly, a shrill female voice cut the antagonists apart. “George, you didn’t take your pain medicine. How come you left the house without it? I brought the car to take you back.”

George looked from Gaff to Ivy and pivoted suddenly to lumber off. His coloring didn’t much change, but the cause did. He was embarrassed by the abrupt interruption of hostilities, especially by something that implied weakness on his part.

Ivy’s feathers were smoothing slowly. “Bastard. What the hell…”

Gaff said quickly, “George’s got cancer. Treatment’s expensive so they couldn’t afford to replace their dryer when it broke.”

Ivy still blasted toxic fumes from her nostrils, like a dragon. “He’s a pushy bastard, if you ask me. Attacking me and me a renter, bringing money into this community.”

Gaff shook his head as he watched his friend stomp toward the walkway. “Wasn’t like that before he got sick, lashes out more. Gotta be tough to know you’re dying. Both physical pain and emotional.”

Ivy snorted, very unladylike. “He’s a damned bully if you ask me.”

Gaff turned to look her in the face, his own anger causing the blood to thump in his ears. “What pain causes you to lash out?” Oops, where is that censor?

Ivy froze, stopped breathing, too. “Me? I didn’t lash out. He started it. I was defending myself.”

Gaff looked up at the tip of his rod, settling his feelings. “And him? Does he have a right to peace?”

Harpoons were set to fly from Ivy’s eyes. Stay out of the way, Gaff, old boy. She was ready to go full out on him.

Another deep breath to calm. “How’d you feel when he told you to stop yelling?”

The question didn’t diffuse her emotion. “When he told me… Why I got mad. What right does he have to order me around?”

“You ever hear what they say in that house next door?”

Her eyes squinched together, thinking. Shook her head. “No, can’t say I have.”

He cocked his head as he looked at her. “And yet George said he hears you…” He watched her shrug and could see that she didn’t care. He looked to Mother Water for help and his eyes settled on footprints on the sand. He pointed to them. “What if I told you to walk down the beach following those footprints?”

Ivy barked, “Go to hell. I can walk where I want. This beach doesn’t belong to you.”

Gaff nodded and looked to the water for more words. “You want to follow your own path. What if I told you to walk that way to avoid being stung by jellyfish left by the waves?”

She nodded. The expression on her face spoke of confusion. “I’d go around.”

He checked the tip of his rod to see if he had a fish and saw it jiggle tentatively… maybe. “What if I asked you to walk around a sand castle my children were building?”

She kicked at the gull that got too close. A nod of agreement. A shrug.

Quickly, he asked, “What if I told you to keep the clothes off the line in your yard?”

She answered so quickly that she couldn’t possibly have thought about it. “You’re a damned selfish bully and I’d tell you to go to hell.”

Gaff nodded. “And yet that’s what you said to him.”

To her credit she did pause a beat. “But the clothes block my view from the kitchen.”

Gaff leaned down to pick up a shell. He shook his head, sad. “You got what you wanted… a fight.” His voice was low. “I don’t think you wanted to solve the problem. You just love to fight.” He moved onto the wet sand and threw the shell out into the waves.

She followed him into the wet. “I want him to take the clothes down.”

He turned to look her in the eyes. “Looks like you just want to order him to take the clothes down. You feel righteous because he fought back. If you really wanted the clothes down, you’d have negotiated, compromised. No, I’ll bet winning is what makes you feel good inside. That requires ordering people around. You bully people to feel strong, but you end up being more afraid.”

She turned on her heel and stormed down the beach. Would she think about it?

Gaff watched her storm cloud move away… talked to himself now. “George lashed out because he’s in physical pain and he’s afraid he’s going to die. What kind of pain, fear, makes you lash out? I just wonder? There is only love or fear.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a 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 By the Sea

Gaff ~ Thoughts of A Fisherman

GAFF Helps with Priscilla’s ACIM Lessons

“Wally Takes on Mother Water”

Thoughts of a Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the March 2011 Newsletter]


            Wally was in running shorts. Goose flesh raised the hair on his legs into a close resemblance to a scouring pad.

            Gaff smiled at the thought, but only said, “Didn’t expect it to be so cold today, did you?”

            The other man didn’t look up. He was preoccupied with wiping away a sheen of sweat from his arms with Gaff’s towel. A nod and a grim expression were his only answer. Then he mumbled, “Was thinking about my sermon for Sunday when I saw you down here.”

            Gaff chuckled, “Jogging for Jesus, were you?”

            The right reverend Wally jerked his head toward Gaff and spat out an indictment, “That is blasphemy!”

            Gaff shrugged. Wally was in no trifling mood today. “Didn’t mean to offend.” He checked the tip of his rod for a sign and then nodded to Mother Water. He added quietly, “Are you saying Jesus didn’t have a sense of humor?”

            This last did not escape the attention of his visitor. “Jesus was a holy man, deserving of great respect. And you and that Mother Water crap… My sermon this Sunday is about pantheism…you are one of the worst.” At this, he wound the towel around his body and plopped down on the cooler beside Gaff.

            Gaff tried vainly to hide his grin. “Pantheism, hunh?”

            “All this New Age garbage about the planet being alive and us being a part of it… and all a part of God. Hogwash!”

            Gaff’s eyebrows shot up. “New age, hunh? You saying the indigenous peoples were born yesterday?” He shut his eyes, ready for the explosion. No disappointment there. A chuckle… so predictable.

            Wally sputtered, “You talking about the Mayans? That’s all over the media. That and 2012 and the end of the world. Well, you know…”

            Gaff’s laugh stopped Wally mid-sentence and that was hard to do. “Do I ever mention the end of the world or that it’s scheduled for any particular date?”

            Wally shook his head in the negative. Gaff saw him about to take off in full rant and cut him off.

            “Does it really matter whether we call the Supreme Being Mother Water or YHWH or George? As long as we teach people to live according to the Way of Love, I don’t see that the name really matters.”

            The sputtering started.

            Gaff chuckled. “In fact, atheism is all right by me as long as the person treats others with respect and love. Call yourself whatever you want as long you respond with love in every situation.”

            “What are you talking about, you crazy old man? You can only be saved in Jesus’ name!”

            Gaff slipped the next in as Wally took a breath. “Don’t see how you could not believe in a Supreme Being when you look at this paradise.” He gestured to the beach and the ocean in front of them. “It’s easiest to love people when you see the good in them and you’ll remember there’s only one letter difference between good and God. So if you can see the good in everyone on the planet, then you must see the God in them.” He glanced at the tip of his rod to see it sway gently with the movement of the waves. Then he cut his eyes to see that Wally was somewhat mollified by his last words. Still, Wally was looking for something to fight.

            Gaff returned his eyes to Mother Water with a silent prayer of gratitude. “We’ve had this talk before. If we teach people to come out of love and to be happy in their lives, it doesn’t matter where we do it. You stay in your pulpit and I’ll catch the ones you miss… or who miss you.”

            Wally pulled the towel tighter. “You mean the ones that go to the beach instead of to church on Sunday?”

            Gaff nodded while he searched the water for jumping fish. He jerked his chin in that direction. “A lot of folks find great solace in that ocean. They don’t think that it’s God, only that being near is curative.”

            Wally was still frowning, but his expression was softening.

            Gaff nodded at something in his head. “So what if I give it a name or look at it while I talk to the Divine? As long as love travels both ways along that connection, isn’t that enough? Or do you feel that God will only listen if He’s addressed by His formal name? And only if He’s giving you a formal reception in a house built to glorify Him?”

            “Well, well… There is only one God.”

            “We agree on that. Only our definition differs. I’d say that the one God is everywhere and that we can chat with Him anywhere.”

            Wally’s face was rouging.

            Gaff wanted to press his advantage.  “Tibetans string prayer flags up in high mountain passes so those prayers can be taken around the world by the wind. Is that bad? Should they keep their flags in some temple?”

            Just then, he heard Priscilla’s voice coming from the walkway over the dunes. “Hallo!” she sang out.

            Wally turned toward the walkway. “Priscilla.” It was a statement.

            Gaff nodded.

            She plopped on the sand when she reached Gaff’s spot. She waved some index cards, smiling. “They’re getting easier now even though I have to practice all the time.”

            Wally reached for the cards. “What are these?”

            Priscilla cut her eyes toward Gaff before answering. “I’m doing the lessons in a workbook to change the way I think.”

            Wally read from the the top card. “Love holds no grievances.” He looked at Priscilla with an unspoken question.

            She took the cards from him and shuffled through them. “That’s number 68, but number 46 is ‘God is the Love in which I forgive.’ And 47 is ‘God is the strength in which I trust.’ There’s one for every day so that I eventually will feel only love. I’m learning to see the blessings and the lessons that people bring me rather than thinking they want to hurt me.”

            Wally looked suspicious. “What is this book you’re talking about?”

            She glanced at Gaff, for support maybe? “A Course in Miracles.”

            Wally sputtered a bit, but Priscilla continued. “I’ve learned how to change my fears into understanding. When someone wants me to feel fear, I understand that he wants love only he doesn’t know how to ask. When I feel that fear it’s because I don’t feel loved.”

            Gaff grinned. “Or because you feel alone. When you remember that God is with you, you have no fear… you know you’ve got the best team.”

            Priscilla read from another card. “I am sustained by the Love of God.” She looked from Gaff to Wally. “Lesson 50.”

            The three sat silent in the breeze off the ocean, feeling the Love of God in that stirring.

            Under his breath, Gaff thanked Mother Water for all her wisdom. “Before you got here, Wally and I were talking about the different ways of learning that God exists in every part of the Universe. In this minute I can feel that God is right here on the beach with us.”

            Wally nodded, but a deep furrow in his brow indicated that he was still looking for something to fuss about in what Gaff said. Finding none, he smiled. “Is it George… or Mother Water today?”

            Gaff laughed from the core of his being and Priscilla looked in confusion from one man to another.



*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a 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 Helps with Priscilla’s Lesson

Gaff and the Question of Fear
(Lessons 32, 33, 34)

Thoughts of a Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the February 2011 Newsletter]

           Priscilla stood by as Gaff tended his rods. Today was a heat wave for February, but she stamped her feet for warmth. He could see her impatience in the movement: waiting for his complete attention. Gaff threaded bait on the hook and cast the line into swells beyond the waves: he’d seen some big ones jumping this morning. They looked hungry.

            As soon as they settled into their places, Gaff in his chair and Priscilla on the cooler, Priscilla launched into a tirade. “I’m having to deal with my father again because of mother. Ehhh. My sister is taking his side now, too.”

            “I thought you weren’t talking to your sister these days.”

            Priscilla’s mouth was an angry slash. “I wouldn’t, but she’s inserted herself into this thing so I can’t avoid it.”

            “Hmmm.” Gaff looked up and down the beach and then at the tip of his rod. It was too still, not even moving with the waves. He pushed himself out of his chair and moved to the rod. He tugged it from the holder and pulled on it several times before he reeled in the line.

            Priscilla reached him just in time to hear him curse under his breath. She smiled. “Fish took your bait already?”

            Just then the end of the line was pulled onto the sand. He shook his head. “Not just the bait, but the whole rig—hook, weight, everything.” He walked to the wagon to dig in his tackle box for a replacement.

            Priscilla laughed. “I’m still doing the lessons in that workbook and the one for today is all about seeing peace. Seems like a good one for you right now.” She fished in her jacket pocket for some index cards. She waved these around and laughed again. “I write the lessons on these cards so I can remember them during the day.” She read from the top card, “ ‘I could see peace instead of this.’ That’s the one for today.”

            Gaff groused as he attached the new hook to his line. “Damned fish would have to start the day by taking my hook. More work…” His voice trailed off.

            Priscilla shuffled through the cards and read from another. “The lesson for yesterday is ’There is another way of looking at the world.’ For the day before, ‘I have invented the world I see.’” She looked at her friend with a smile, eyebrows raised. She cocked her head, waiting.

            Gaff baited the new hook and cast his line into the water. Just as the hook hit the water, the sun broke through an oddly shaped hole in the clouds and cast the shape of a heart on distant swells. He pointed and they stood admiring the sun’s tribute to the special day of this month: Valentine’s Day. Gaff laughed from deep inside. “Looks like the sun’s celebrating the love in this world!”

            Then he turned to look at Priscilla, hands on hips. “So to feel more love, I could change the way I see this situation… If I focus on the blessings, I would feel more peaceful about losing my hook?”

            She nodded, still smiling.

            “OK, I will see this as an indication that the old fellow out there is so hungry that he’s ready to jump on my hook the minute I can get it out there. By eating the first bait I threw him, he’s going to calm down and not snap my line again.”

            Priscilla laughed. “And you could see his strength as adding to the sport of pulling him in… when you do.”

            Gaff turned to look toward the place where his line entered the water. “I do like a challenge.” They were quiet for a moment before Gaff turned to Priscilla. Now he was smiling. “All kinds of fish are in that ocean.  Diversity is part of what makes the fishing fun. Some of them seem to jump on my hook and others play this game with me. Be boring if every one were the same.” He nodded and then added, “I guess people are like that, too.”

            His companion cut her eyes from water to Gaff. Suspicion colored her voice. “You’re not going to say that my sister and Dad are a blessing to me?”

            Gaff chuckled. “Just might be that they volunteered to help you learn some lesson. Hard one to avoid because they’re family members. You just told me that you can change the way you see that situation so you find peace in it. What’s stopping you?”

            Priscilla drew her mouth into a frown and squinted in the direction of the ocean.

            Gaff shook his head. “Didn’t you just say that I invent the world I see and that I can see it differently—invent a new one? Well, if I can, why can’t you?”

            Priscilla hurrumphed, but said nothing.

            Gaff turned toward Mother Water. “For someone on a spiritual journey, you seem to want to sidestep the tough lessons that you’re being offered by your dad and your sister. You told me that if it isn’t love, it’s fear. What are you afraid of?” A quick glance at his friend.

            Another hurrumph. She squinted at the horizon.

            Gaff mumbled under his breath, “Seems to me that we’re awfully good at manifesting, but we manifest first what we fear most. Might be that we react to things as though the worst has happened already and that encourages people to do what we fear. Could be that we attract into our lives those bad things.” He shrugged. “Maybe we should work more on learning to handle fears… We’ve talked so long about feeling your connection with the Source that we’ve forgotten to talk about dealing with the shadows in your self. That’s a reason for connecting to Source… to get help with the tough situations.” He smiled at Mother Water and then looked to the tip of his rod.

            Priscilla played the statue. Her voice came out of the quiet. “I have faith that everything is in divine order and that good will come of it even if it doesn’t look the way I thought it would.” She shook the index cards in her hand. “I know these lessons are telling me to focus on the objective facts and to deal with just those without making wild predictions about the future or a meaning based on past experiences.”

            Gaff added quietly, “What happened in the past is gone except when you bring it into the present.” Then he nodded at some thought in his head. “Maybe the hardest relationships to deal with are the ones with the most to teach us. This calls for another talk with the spirit of my dad… we didn’t see eye-to-eye about a lot of stuff.” He turned to the woman next to him. “You’re lucky you still have your dad and sister here to talk things out with.”

            Her words spat out into the sand. “As if…” Then she stopped before slowly adding, “I guess I should.”

            The old fisherman turned toward Mother Water. “For someone on a spiritual journey—like you—these situations are just exercises in the classroom of life, not things to avoid.”

            The tip of Gaff’s rod jumped: big fish there, hooked. Gaff grinned.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a 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 Helps with Priscilla’s Lesson

Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the January 2011 Newsletter]


 Priscilla was sitting in Gaff’s spot reading a book when he got there.

Gaff arrived at the beach in the afternoon because he spent the morning doing errands with Julia. He shook his head. Julia and her bridge group! He looked around the beach: this was his bridge group, he thought. As he put out the chair and the flag and the fishing rods, Gaff stole looks at Priscilla, waiting for her to start talking. She was troubled by something and he didn’t want to intrude without being asked. He could wait.

Priscilla slid next to him as he greeted Mother Water, dipping his hands into a wave to make the connection with the energy of the planet. He mumbled a prayer of thanksgiving— for his family and friends and for his own health and happiness. He couldn’t imagine being happier. They stood side by side looking out to the horizon, at life sustained by the water of the planet. He glanced at his companion to see her hands empty: no book. The frown was still there, though.

Gaff chuckled as he looked at the tip of his fishing rod to see if he had a nibble. “I was just thinking that I couldn’t be happier and you’ve got that frown.”

Another shake of her head. “I just don’t get it. I’m doing the lessons in this workbook. There’s one for each day—365– and I’ve gotten stuck on the very first one.” Something in the sand caught her eye and she picked up a shark’s tooth. A nod of satisfaction at her good luck. She brushed sand from it.

Gaff grinned. He was used to his friend’s hyperbole. The drama made her more interesting, he thought. “What is it that you don’t get?”

Priscilla jammed the tooth into her pocket as she stooped to pick up something else. “The book says to keep looking around the room telling ourselves that whatever we see doesn’t have meaning.”

Gaff wiped hands on pants before fishing mints out of his pocket. He offered one to Priscilla. “Seems pretty straight forward. What don’t you get?”

Priscilla held the shell for him to see. “This is a shell and it does have meaning.  We couldn’t talk about it if it didn’t.”

Gaff poked with a finger and then returned his eyes to the water. “Is this the book that teaches how to see things differently?”

A nod, still inspecting the bit of calcium in her hand.

Gaff looked at Mother Water for insight. “Are you asking for help in seeing things differently and refusing to take the first step?”

She grimaced. “The book does say that we don’t have to believe for it to work… but I guess I’m resistant.”


Gaff nodded. “You keep complaining about the problems getting your manuscript accepted by a publishing house.”

She shrugged.

He continued, “My hunch is that talking about a shell is a heck of a lot easier than talking about the editors in New York.”

Priscilla’s head jerked in his direction. “I can talk about them just fine.” Her voice was harsh, strident with anger.

“But it would be hard for you to say that what they tell you doesn’t have any meaning.”

She turned to face him squarely. “Uh hunh. They do have meaning. They determine what I do with my life… and to some extent whether I eat.”

“Is that so? And what about your father?”

The red heat of anger was rising in her face. “Oh, yes, he has meaning all right.”

Gaff patted her arm and then took the shell out of her hand. “This shell… the only meaning it has is that it is called by the word ‘shell.’ Other than that, it has no meaning, no associations for you.”

Priscilla nodded… and then quickly added. “There’s the memory that I found it on the beach here.” She took in their surroundings with a wave of her hand.

He held the shell at shoulder level. “I’m going to give it another meaning, then.” He thought for a bit.

She watched intently, curiosity etched in two lines between her brows.

Gaff’s voice became melodic. He waved his hand over and around the shell several times. “I have given this shell the power to attract love into the life of the person who possesses it.” A few more patterns waved over the shell and Gaff handed it with great ceremony to Priscilla.

She looked at the little shell resting in the middle of her palm and started to smile. “Did you do something to this thing? It feels warm in my hand and tingles.” Then she closed her fist around it and brought it to rest against her heart, with the other hand on top. Her laugh sounded like tinkling bells. “It feels warm like love itself. Are you a magician?”

Gaff shook his head. “I only gave you the idea that it was magic and you gave it that meaning. I could as easily have said it would bring money or misfortune. And then what would you have felt?”

The corners of her mouth turned down slightly. “So really, the shell only has the meaning that someone gives it. Like you told me it brought love, but I could tell someone that this very same shell brings pain. I feel the love and the person I give it to would feel danger.”

Gaff removed his hat to run fingers through his hair as he nodded. Some hair stood on end as he replaced the hat.

She held her hand out flat, with the shell on its palm. “The shell really has no meaning… only the meaning that a person gives it. That I give it… or that you give it.”

Another nod… and a smile. Gaff glanced at the tip of his rod. It was jerking and wiggling: sign of a fish on the hook… first of the day.

She moved with him as he tended the lines. “The shell has no meaning… that is, no emotion is attached to it, but what a person gives it.”

Gaff grinned as he reeled in a big whiting. He smiled. Whiting is good eating. “This fish is just a fish unless you know how good it tastes coming out of Julia’s fry pan.”

Priscilla laughed. “Or how much fun it is to reel in.”

He took the fish off the hook and held it out for her to admire. “I guess that workbook starts with the shell because it’s a lot easier to think that a shell has no meaning than it is that your father has no meaning.”

“Or a rejection letter from an editor…”

Gaff laughed. “That workbook must start small to place the hook. Then it reels you in.”

Priscilla put the shell into her pocket. “I’m going to keep that shell because you put magic into it. What magic can you put into a rejection letter?”

Gaff opened the cooler and worked the whiting into a place under the ice. “It has no meaning apart from the words on the paper: that he won’t publish your book.” He dug around for bait in a plastic bag.

His friend’s head tilted, listening.

Gaff baited the hook and then cast the line into the surf. “Easier to say what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever get published. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible failure as a writer. It doesn’t mean that the manuscript is bad. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be on the list of bestselling authors one day. It doesn’t mean that you are stupid… It only means that that one editor doesn’t want to publish your novel.”

Priscilla took her place on the cooler as Gaff plopped into his chair. She stared out to Mother Water to see where Gaff got all this wisdom. “All those other meanings are the ones I gave the letter.” She took her book from the sand and brushed it off. “The shell has no meaning for me in and of itself. The ocean has no meaning. The flag has no meaning.”

“You got it!”

She turned to look into her friend’s eyes. “And yet anyone who knows you, knows those things have great meaning… a meaning that boils down to love.”

Gaff smiled out at Mother Water and nodded. “The Way of Love: the source of miracles.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a 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 ~ The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
Thoughts of an old Fisherman

Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the December 2010 Newsletter]


            The voice came from behind him, from the walkway joining land to sand. “Where’s your girlfriend? Not here today? Was kind of looking forward to another chat with her.”

            Gaff turned to see Wally trudging through the sand toward him. He shook his head. “You mean Priscilla?”

            “Yep.” Wally plopped down on the cooler and almost slid off. He wiggled it to dig it further in, level it. “Hmmm, not bad. Pretty comfortable, in fact.”

            Gaff looked at the tip of his rod to see the rhythmic back and forth movement of the tide… no fish. Not yet. “No complaints so far. What brings you to the beach?”

            Wally looked to the ocean. “Attended my uncle’s funeral in Wilmington yesterday.” He shook his head. “Terribly emotional. I couldn’t tell whether people were sad or joyful that he wasn’t around any more.”

            Gaff turned to look at his visitor. “Not well liked?”

            He shook his head violently. “Wasn’t nice to people from what I know about him. I said some things as part of the service. Took a lot of control to keep from preaching fire and brimstone and the wrath of God at the time of judgment.”

            Gaff smiled slightly and concentrated on holding his own tongue. “You don’t say.”

Wally looked like he intended to say everything he hadn’t at the funeral. He nodded. “When my uncle hits the Pearly Gates, he’s going to meet an angry God who’ll reject him from the place of the good. There’ll be hell to pay, if you catch my drift.” He chuckled without humor. “Man hurt a lot of people. Have to give ‘em credit for keeping quiet yesterday, but I could see it in their eyes.”

Gaff grinned, couldn’t help it. “You think your uncle’ll end up in hell, do you?”

Wally pushed the hair out of his eyes. “Without a doubt. Figure that’s why he held onto life for so long… knew what he was in for.”

Gaff dug into the sand and let it run through his fingers. “Sick a long time?”

Wally nodded. “Stuck around for meanness.”

“Bet he was surprised when he finally got there.”

Wally’s head jerked around toward Gaff. “What do you mean, surprised?”

Gaff grabbed an empty coffee cup from the sand and stood. Wally followed him to the surf. When the next wave rolled onto the sand at their feet, the old fisherman reached down to fill the cup with water. He looked into the cup with such rapt attention that Wally moved closer to see, too.

Finally overcome with curiosity, Wally broke into the sound of the waves. “What are you looking at?”

Gaff smiled into the cup. “The ocean.”

Wally’s face scrunched into a tight frown. “You are some crazy old man. That’s just a cup of water, not the ocean.”

Gaff looked at his new friend. “Is it? You just saw me take it from the ocean and it contains all the minerals that the ocean does. It’s just like the ocean from which it came.” He waited for that to sink in.

Wally looked from the cup of water to Gaff’s face. Did he feel Gaff pulling his leg? Then he stared into the cup for a long moment. “It is the same in that way.”

Gaff smiled. “You might say the ocean is the mother and this cup of water is a miniature version of the mother… a child.”

Wally jerked to negate the statement, but paused. “OK, I’ll go along with you.”

Gaff crossed the fingers of his other hand behind his back. “You could think of God like the ocean, large and encompassing everything, a sea of endless potential. You could see each of us as a part of that everything, only separated in our physical bodies.” He tapped on the cup to make his point. “We all hold endless potential within us.”

The minister took time to try on this idea. He jiggled his head to indicate the possibility and looked at Gaff to see where this was going.

Gaff jabbed a finger at the cup. “What you do with that potential is up to you.” He shook his head. “I believe I do a better job with my life with Christ guidance, but each person has free will.”

“Following the commandments is good.” Wally nodded as he looked from cup to ocean and then to Gaff.

The corners of Gaff’s mouth twitched upward. “Are you talking about Jesus’ two commandments?”

Wally stood taller and looked at Gaff. “There’re ten of them.”

Gaff shook his head. “But in the New Testament, Jesus boiled them down to two.”

Wally shrugged his resignation. “You’ve mentioned His Way of Love.”

Water sloshed in the cup to draw their attention. “To me, believing in separation from God is the true hell.”

“Then all of life is hell.”

Gaff smiled. “Not if you follow His guidance. It’s only hell if you think you know better and fight to get your way. Then you’re in a hell of your own creation.” He waved to encompass the world around them. “We’re in a physical paradise with the ability to create an emotional paradise.”

Wally cocked his head, confused.

Gaff grinned as he looked around. “If we send out love and work the miracles we’re guided to by the Christ, we create heaven right here on earth.”

Wally looked into the cup again. “And then what happens when we die?”

Gaff threw the water into the wave at their feet. “We rejoin the rest.”

Wally frowned. “You’re saying there’s no judgment, no fire and brimstone, no devil?”

Gaff walked toward his chair. “Oh there’s judgment, but we judge ourselves and probably more harshly than a thousand gods would. From our place in the ocean we can see the whole and that includes the pain we caused. Because we’re part of the whole, we FEEL that pain—and the joy. Feeling that pain is the worst punishment possible.”

Wally did some of his sputtering act, but to his credit, he seemed to be thinking about this new way of looking at life and death.

“And why do you fish, old man?”

Gaff pointed to the ocean. “I find peace in being close to Mother Water. I bless her and she blesses me. I find joy in giving to her and to all her creations, for all creatures came from her. We are filled with the water that is life. Here I can pay tribute to that life and pass on the blessings that I’ve been given. I create miracles when He brings people to ask about the flag. Maybe it’s easier for some to ask an old fisherman about the skull and crossed leg bones than to ask a minister about a man on a cross.”

Wally sputtered.

 “I see things very simply and use simple words and examples to get to the point. Maybe they even see how much I love them and that’s important to people who are floundering.” Gaff looked at the tip of his rod and it was almost jumping. A fish on the line?


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a 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 ~ Mary Magdalene versus Determinism
Thoughts of an old Fisherman

Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the  November 2010 Newsletter]

 ‘Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb’

artist Unknown

Priscilla was bundled up in sweaters covered by a windbreaker. She wiggled on the cooler to settle it in the sand while she watched Gaff cast his lines into the surf. She was taking a break from writing, but wondered at her decision to visit her friend on the blustery beach. How could Gaff fish all through the winter? Or did he?

Rods in their holders, Gaff stood at water’s edge looking out at Mother Water for a good moment and then he came to take his place in the ratty old beach chair beside the cooler. The flag serenaded them with its a-rhythmic thwapping in the breeze.

He smiled. “Taking a break?”

A nod. She looked out at the horizon wondering how much warmer it would get today. Actually, she was hoping for more warmth.

He would honor her silence as long as she needed it. A decision, a nod. “I’m reading about Mary Magdalene and the original church.”

He nodded, waiting for more. A glance at the rod showed the pull of the tides, no fish yet.

Priscilla hugged herself for warmth. It was November: a great time for walking on the beach, but cold to sit. She opened her mouth to speak, but was distracted by a male voice calling a greeting. They turned to see a figure coming across the walkway from the parking lot. Bundled against the wind, he waved and grinned big enough to be seen from where they sat.

Gaff pulled a towel from his wagon and spread it on the sand, ready for company.

“Saw your flag and figured I’d make a social call since I’m walking in this direction today.” He reached them and looked around. “A bit cold today, isn’t it?”

Gaff muttered, “Comes and goes these days.” He looked from person to person. “Priscilla, meet the right reverend Wally. Wally, this is Priscilla, a writer with a diverse reading list.”

Wally plopped down on the proffered towel and looked her over with an expression that unsettled Priscilla. “And what would you be reading now?”

Priscilla glanced at Gaff and then looked at Wally, Defiance was written all over her face. “I’m reading about Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus.” Then she looked out to the sea. A smile teased the corners of her mouth.

Wally practiced sputtering. He was getting good at it.  Now Priscilla did smile.

Gaff was smiling, too. “Told you.”

Wally straightened with dignity. “Jesus wouldn’t marry a whore.” Then he turned to look at the water. Period.

Priscilla’s voice was low, but with an edge fit to cut bait. “Pope rescinded that in 1969. You must have missed the small print.”

Wally turned toward her. “Did he say she was Jesus’ wife?”

Priscilla shook her head. “Didn’t go that far, but evidence in the Bible points to that conclusion.” Gaff had told her about meeting Wally.

Gaff chuckled. “Forgot to warn you that she talks about the Bible… without the letters behind her name. It’s an epidemic.” He coughed to hide his laugh.

Wally’s face threatened a storm, but he breathed deeply and attempted impassivity. “Must be her destiny to get caught up in the debate about Mary’s role. My sermon this week is about determinism, God’s plan, and I’ve been looking into it.”

Priscilla’s eyes popped open wide. “Determinism. I’ve read about that, too. Why is it that I’m destined to believe that the Magdalene is the tower and not the whore?” She cut her eyes toward Wally, then turned her attention to a shell in the sand beside her.

He shrugged. “Pretty obvious, isn’t it? You’re a woman fighting for a place in the spotlight. You wouldn’t want to think that Mary got her glory from being one of a crowd of women around Jesus. Giving her a more esteemed position has more appeal. The Virgin Mary was content to stake her reputation on her famous son.”

Priscilla took the bait. “It’s not about me at all. What I’ve read resonates with me– the second coming is when Mary returns and she will only show up when we exalt her as an equal to the male anointed one, the male Christ. She is the female Christ according to the MALE scholars I’m reading.” She could feel the heat of anger rising in her face.

Gaff groaned, rolling his eyes, which he turned to see Wally’s reaction.

Wally shook his head slowly, a smug smile decorating it. “The Second Coming, a woman? I don’t think so. No, your destiny is to follow this blind alley until you come to the end and have to retrace your steps. Then you will come to the teaching of the church for the truth. Goes back to Eve leading Adam astray. God has it all planned for you… your whole journey. You’ll try to lead us astray, but…” He ignored sparks coming from her eyes.

Gaff chuckled. “I’m surprised you didn’t blame some teacher that predicted she couldn’t be as successful as a man.”

Wally definitely underestimated Priscilla’s strength of conviction.

Priscilla grabbed the shell at her feet and threw it at the waves. “This is the very thinking that keeps us in a hole so deep we can’t see out. Goddess Energy is the loving energy that’s flooding the planet so we can see the good in others. The future of the human race depends on acceptance of women as equal… Besides the Great Mary was an important priestess in her own right.”

Wally’s sputtering was preliminary to a tirade and Gaff didn’t want that to pollute his beach. He cleared his throat and put a hand on the person to each side. His voice was strong, but gentle. “What does it matter if everything is set in stone because of what a woman did ages ago? What does it matter if the Mary was a Christ?”

Priscilla and Wally both had mouths open, ready to answer.

Gaff dropped his hands onto the arms of his chair, leaned back, and looked to Mother Water. “These intellectual discussions can be interesting, but are you so distracted by them that you miss the important point? The important point for me is to learn a new way of loving every day. The important point is to follow the guidance of a loving god to find new ways of benefiting the people around me.”

He turned to Priscilla. “Is your discussion of Mary’s role an attempt to show people new ways of valuing men and women to an equal amount?”

She wanted to answer, but stopped to think. A small nod. She saw how she could do that. It only took a slight change in direction.

He turned to Wally. “How is your discussion of determinism going to convince your congregation to leave behind old programming to follow the two commandments Jesus gave? Isn’t part of that old programming the belief that we have to follow what’s written in a book rather than develop a personal relationship with the divine?”

Wally’s eyes were boring through Gaff, but he was listening.

Gaff smiled. “Call it Goddess Energy if you want, but we’re becoming more aware of our capacity to love every person on the planet. Love forms and reforms the water of the world, in the seas and in the people. Love makes life, and the water of life, into a thing of beauty.” He stopped suddenly to look at Mother Water.

Priscilla was speechless. She had never seen Gaff say so much and so strongly. She glanced at Wally and then looked into her own hands. Tears filled her eyes and painted tracks on her cheeks. If writing is her life purpose, then didn’t she want to create things of beauty? She glanced at Wally, lost in his own thoughts. It didn’t matter what this man thought. She had her own path. She looked at Mother Water and said a prayer asking for guidance and thanking her for the friendship with Gaff. High up on her list for this Thanksgiving season was this man who knew.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a 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 meets Wally
Thoughts of a Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the October 2010 Newsletter]


                      He walked up and started right in. “I’m minister at the church just down the road and some of my congregation tell me you’ve been preaching on this beach.”

            Gaff’s eyes flew wide and his mouth dropped open. He stuck his hand out, offering to shake. “Name’s Gaff.” He looked at the fishing gear all around him and didn’t think he needed to explain why he was here.

            The man looked at Gaff’s hand as though it were a snake coiled to attack. “I’m Wally Redmon, Reverend Walter Redmon. My church is two blocks down.” His chin jerked in that direction. He stood there looking as though expecting Gaff to engage in fisticuffs.

            Gaff watched his visitor wondering where he’d go from here, and why.

            Hands on hips, anger shooting out all around him. Wally rocked on his feet, uncomfortable in the silence. “I’m here to tell you to cease and desist. You are not a trained minister, so stop preaching to my people.”

            Gaff looked all around to see if Wally might be addressing these comments to someone else. No one there. “Me?” Feeling at a disadvantage sitting, Gaff stood. Then an idea. “What exactly am I doing that offends you?”

            Feet in a strong stance, planted wide and ready for a fight. “You’re preaching the Word and telling people how to live their lives without the proper training.” Once started the waves kept right on breaking around him. “Have you read the Bible? Have you gone to Seminary to learn about the Bible? I’ve had good teachers train me in what the Good Book means, especially the Gospels. How much have you studied the history of the church or how to tell people how to save their souls? I’m trained to teach people about Jesus’s teachings.”

            Gaff watched as Wally finished his rant and the energy drained out of him like water leaving a tidepool. He shook his head. “Help me understand your concerns.”

            Wally started to say something, but Gaff held his hand up, palm out. “My turn.” He looked to Mother Water for help with this. His voice was calm and low. “I am a fisherman, sitting on the beach casting lines out into the ocean. People come to visit me. “ He glanced at the flag flapping in the wind. “Many come because of the flag… the skull and crossed leg bones. Some leave a part of their burden with me by talking about the troubles in their lives.”

            He looked at Wally through squinted eyes. “Am I right so far?”

            Wally nodded, but was stopped from talking by Gaff’s outstretched hand.

            Gaff closed his eyes to see. “I talk about the birds and fish and clouds, things of nature, to give people an idea of how things fit together. Sometimes when they hear my stories, they see how all the creatures on the planet are part of the same whole. Sometimes they see their own lives differently and figure out how to be happier… Is this what you understand?” Gaff looked at his visitor.

            Wally nodded. His nod was answered by Gaff’s.

            The old fisherman looked at the sand as he dug a toe into it. “A lot of times that means to understand and love people who used to make them mad. What I don’t see is what’s wrong with that.”

            Wally hesitated a tick before he realized he could answer. “You quote the Bible, a book you haven’t studied.”

            Gaff nodded, patient. “You are right, I haven’t read the Bible all the way through. I guess it isn’t enough that I’ve gone to church all these many years listening to the readings and the sermons explaining them. I guess it isn’t enough that I’ve practiced living the two Commandments that Jesus gave us in the New Testament.” He squinted at the tip of his rod, no sign of a catch.

            The old fisherman sighed a sad one. “I don’t much quote the Bible or any other book for that matter even though I’ve read plenty. What I tell people comes from the love in my heart, not from some words I’ve memorized… and no piece of paper can certify that love.”

            Wally sputtered, but didn’t say a word.

            Again, Gaff looked into his visitor’s eyes. “I didn’t need a piece of paper to teach my wonderful children nor to love my Julia. So I don’t understand why I need some piece of paper to show people how to allow more happiness into their lives. I love the people who sit on my cooler… Well, most of them… I’m filled with incredible joy when I see them walk back down the beach with a hitch in their step. I don’t tell them what to do or how to live their lives. They might see themselves in my stories and learn more about life. Do I need a paper for that?”

            Wally blurted out his words. “Only a pagan talks about Mother Water like it was a human… corrupting my people. You’re barbarian.” His hands jammed into his hips again, full of fury, hard enough to make a bruise.

            Gaff shook his head. “No, Mother Water isn’t a person, but God can speak to us through anything. This is His world and He uses all of it to teach us. A big part of what’s troubling our planet is that we don’t love her enough. So does it offend you if I love the planet and take care of her? Is that why I need a paper and some letters behind my name? Those letters’ll give me the right to encourage others to take care of the planet so we still have a home?” He looked at Mother Water and the creatures around her.

            Wally sputtered. No words came from him.

            Gaff grinned and looked into the minister’s face, challenging. “Let’s have a contest, you and me. Let’s see who can love our people the best and can help them to grow strongest. Let’s see who can have the happiest lives, filled with joy. Let’s see who can allow our wives and children to be the healthiest and happiest, not spoiled, but knowing they’re really loved. Let’s see who can live a life most like the one that Jesus modeled for us.”

            Wally looked puzzled for a moment, but seeing no negative, nodded his agreement. The corners of his mouth threatened to turn up in a smile.

            Gaff checked the tip of his rod. Did he have one on the line? It was wiggling. He turned eyes back to the minister. “You know, the only two emotions are love and fear. Fear can be called by so many other names, so many… Love can, too, I guess. No matter what nametag it’s wearing, though, you can still recognize it.” He shook his head. “If what you’re seeing or feeling isn’t love, it must be fear. Whenever you feel fear, it’s time to find out what caused it and boot it out of your life. A life filled with love is a magnificent thing—everyone should have one! You, too.”


* Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.