I have found it to be a real truth that the very sitting by the river’s edge is not only the quietest and fittest place for contemplation, but will invite an angler to do it.

–Isaac Walton

There’s a trout stream about an hour away from Boise, Idaho, known locally as "The South Fork." No other designation is needed; every fly fisherman in the valley knows it by that name.

It’s been known to offer up some fair—sized trout now and then, but it’s a capricious river. I’ve fished it with might and main on days when all the conditions were exactly, or seemed exactly right, and have caught exactly nothing.

But no matter. When the fishing falls off I find a place to sit and enjoy the solitude. It’s a quiet zone in the midst of my much—too—busy world, a place to lift my eyes from my crowded existence to the "eternal hills," to live for a brief time a less—annoyed life. It’s one of my "thinking spots" as Winnie—the—Pooh would say.

Walton said that rivers are made for wise men to contemplate and only fools pass by them without consideration. While I’m no sage I do agree that rivers invite periods of quiet thought. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of them. The South Fork is just such a place. What follows are a few of the ideas that have come to me there and in other tranquil places I know.

It’s said that when French mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal died his family found his study and pockets littered with small scraps of paper on which he had jotted down his thoughts. They were collected into what later became known as his Pensées (Thoughts). With apologies to Pascal these are some of my Pensées–random thoughts I’ve written on scraps of paper at various times and have finally gotten around to collecting and reworking into the thoughts you’ll find in this book.

All have to do with spiritual formation, that process by which Christ is formed in us–for our sake, for God’s sake and for the sake of others. Some are long; others are short; all are incomplete. I agree with children’s writer Katherine Peterson: "We cannot go back and revise our lives, but being allowed to go back and revise what we have written comes closest." Someday I’m sure I’ll want to gather up these thoughts and revise them for spiritual understanding, like every other living thing, is always growing.

The format for this book is simple: there is one chapter for each day of the month. Each chapter contains a text of scripture and a brief essay based on that text. It’s my hope that you’ll read the scripture text and essay each morning, ponder both through the day and pray the truth, as it comes to you, into your soul.

It is my prayer that these writings will speak to your heart and not just to your head. As Bunyon wrote in his preface to The Pilgrim’s Progress, "May you lay my book, your head and heart together."

David Roper
Boise, Idaho

From the book: In Quietness and Confidence Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501 (1-800-283-8333).