There is a little stream or creek about 2 miles from our house. It connects the two large lakes close to our home, Spring Lake and Upper Prior Lake.
At first, when we approached the water, I noticed a few of the fish along the shoreline. But it wasn't until I stood back and really looked at what I was seeing to realize the sheer number of fish that were really there. Originally, I thought the stream bottom was black. But then, when I looked from a different vantage point, from the direction that the sun was shining, I realized that there were hundreds of fish all massed together, turning the rusty tan stream floor into a black undulating mass. Oddly there was a natural break from one mass to the next, as seen in the photo to the right. All that black is fish on top of fish, blending one into another, one hardly distinguishable from the next.
Clearly, the fish were attempting to make their way through the concrete tunnel under the bridge and out to their spawning destination in Spring Lake. This past fall during road widening, the bridge was reconstructed, however, changing the waterway slightly. According to my dad, there is some concern that the fish may be having a harder time getting through this year. As you can see, there are only a few that have made it to the concrete and, from what Elly and I saw, there seemed to be none on the other side.
Elly and I really enjoyed watching the fish. El decided that she would like to be a fish, though she was sure she did not want to fall into the fish mass. Later, we also brought the boys by to see this fun phenomenon.
Sometimes, I feel like one of those fish. Sometimes, not very often, I feel as if I am just one in a mass of many, hardly distinguishable from the rest. I wonder on occasion, "What sets me apart? What makes me unique? What, if anything, is my 'je ne sais quoi'?" Although there are times when blending in is a plus (like when you are a zebra trying to confuse a lion or if you don't want to be called on in class), most of us want to be seen as having something of worth or something unique. Most of us want to be noticed for something - a charming or enduring quality, a unique job, an achievement or accomplishment, the hard work we do, the positive choices we make, the glimmer in our eyes when we smile, the silky softness of our hair (okay, now I'm just being silly). Most of us don't really want to be just another fish fighting an upstream swim. When I start to feel this way, I remind myself of the One who made me, fearfully and wonderfully, and who sees me even in my day to day when no one else might.
Thankfully, sometimes, I feel like one of those fish. While I am not a lover of always blending in with all the other fish around me, I am a lover of community and the support it brings. Imagine if you were the only fish in that stream trying to make your way through to the next lake. The water is pushing against you, the hawks are circling above, some city guy messed up your route, and here you are all alone. (I can hear the sniffles of shared compassion for that fish now.) Since I am not a fishologist or fish psychologist, I cannot say whether or not fish have some degree of "emotional" need for community that humans do, but clearly (given that many breeds of fish school) there is at least a primal survival need for community. My need for community is emotional, physical, spiritual, and survival-al (I am sure that is a word). I am not sure how I would do this life without the support, encouragement, and just plain fun of others. I cannot count the number of times that a good friend, partner in ministry, or family member came along side me (or my family) in a time of need. I cannot imagine parenting without others occasionally cheering, affirming, guiding, and listening. I would surely flounder (pun, possibly intended) if I tried to walk my faith walk without other believers...it can be done, but I'm sure glad I don't have to do it.
And, how boring would life be if I could not also be a part of someone else's community? I get great joy from being a support and encouragement to others and I just plain loving having fun with others. Today, I had to miss out on 3, count them 3, adult relational activities due to my sickly daughter (only pink eye, but the risk of spreading eye crust to others kept us hibernating) and the need to be home for one of my sons this afternoon. I could have had a fabulous Y work out, followed by an early movie or lunch, followed by a late afternoon play date, but I had to turn them all down. (Okay, in reality, I am not sure I could have handled that busy of a schedule today, but I am all warm inside just knowing that the option was there - I am growing in my community!). While three back to back opportunities may have done me in, I am so thankful that the One who created the universe, created me with a longing for relationship and community.
Wow! Who knew that watching fish could bring about so many thoughts? Okay, probably anyone who knows me well at all knew that something like fish watching would cause me to think a little more than maybe I ought. No wonder I have such crazy dreams while I sleep. I gotta work out all the things I didn't get to finish thinking about during the day! Ha ha! At any rate, be glad you're not a fish and have a great night! Oh, and feel free to let me know if and how you ever feel like a fish. :)