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It is the nets I remember most,
even after all these years –
the rough cords; the knots;
the weight of the heavy nets
upon my calloused fingers.

God, I wish I had a denarius
for every time I’ve dreamed
about those silly, slimy nets!

Of course, it was not just the nets
we left behind: it was a house,
and a family to go home to.
It was knowing what to expect,
what the next day might bring.

With Jesus, there was no telling,
truly no telling, what he might
be up to next: Arguing with a Pharisee.
Healing a leper. Sitting down
to talk theology with a woman,
for God’s sake!

That’s what he said, by the way:
He did it all for God’s sake.
And somehow, I believed him.
Somehow, I believe him still.

And somehow, to this day,
I am still following,
following as best I can,
even though I still miss
the light on the lake, boat
rocking under my feet.
Even though I still dream
about gathering those nets
in my cracked, calloused hands.

Photo by Riddhiman Bhowmik on Unsplash

William D. Howden

William D. Howden is an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Now retired, he lives in San Antonio with his wife, Jan Davis, and their cats. He holds degrees from Milligan University (BA) and Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). Bill’s essays, sermons and poetry have been published in various journals. He and Jan also produce a free bi-monthly newsletter, Soul Windows: Reflection (


  • Thomas Bartha says:

    A delightful poem, and a fine way to begin this day. Thank you.

  • Jack Ridl says:

    That’s Peter! Ya got him and brought him.
    So grateful.

    Please give Naomi Nye my greetings and hopes for comfort

    • Bill Howden says:

      Thank you, Jack. It was “they left their nets….” in Mark’s account of the call of Peter that led me down this path. Once I started on that path, this poem almost wrote itself.

      Sadly, I do not know Naomi; I know several people who do know her, but she and I have never met.

  • Emily Jane VandenBos Style says:

    Thank you for this hands-on net-work, a felt blessing.

  • Larry Carr says:

    Of course he would remember the nets, this simple, course fisherman. The nets that brought him his daily sustenance were such an important part of his journey. And, in a sense, he never really left them, as he became a fisher of men.
    Thank you for a lovely poem.