Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sometimes I feel like a fish...huh?!?

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. 
This is a map of where we are living.  My neighborhood, on the left with a blue dot,  is not yet developed in this view.  For my far away friends, I've added dots indicating where my parents and my oldest brother live to give perspective of just how close we are to them now that we have moved.  My sister lives just a bit off the map on Lower Prior Lake, which is an extension of the lake to the north.  I feel really fortunate to be so near family and to have so many lakes near by.
For the last couple weeks, I noticed people standing on the banks of the stream looking down into the rushing water.  I kept meaning to stop to see what the fuss was about.  So, yesterday, Elly and I decided to check it out.  I figured there must be a few fish or crayfish hanging out near the bridge.  What we saw, however, surprised both of us!  There were not a few fish, but hundreds of fish!

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, I feel as if I am fighting upstream.  I know where I am supposed to be headed.  I may even be able to see the end in sight or know that it is just out of reach.  But, as I fight to gain ground (or water, in the fishie analogy), I feel like I am just stuck....treading water, sometimes making a big 'ole splash, but making no headway.  Maybe the route that has worked in the past suddenly (or not so suddenly) has a new barrier that needs to be overcome.  Perhaps, the rush of day to day life just pushes too hard for too long and I can't seem to break through it to regain momentum.  Most days are not like this, but some days are.  Thankfully, I know there is One who is with me in those moment, fighting the battle along side me.

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.  :)


  1. Kathy, I loved reading this post! Definitely identify with needing community, wanting to be "more" by God's grace, yet resisting wanting to shine too much, for fear of more responsibility piled on when discovered you're capable...Selfish, perhaps...Growing can be rather uncomfortable, even if it's an adventure and completely worth it.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Marijka! You sure do shine, girl! Keep growing and going on the adventure God's put you in. So glad to see you here!

  3. While reading this, my first thought was that I show up at preschool drop-off with unwashed hair and in yoga pants twice a week. Not exactly stand-out material.
    The more I read, the more I identify with you Kathy. I too, thrive on community and I love being a part of other people's communities. God blesses us so much by allowing us to be a part of someone else's story. Thank you for being a part of mine:)

  4. Aw, Michelle! You probs looked hot in your unwashed hair and yoga pants! ;)
    I am so glad you were/are a part of mine as well, Michelle! You (and your sweet family) will always hold a special place in my heart. You really need to hop in your van and go on a road trip to MN sometime.


Share your thoughts, feelings, or your own related experiences. I love that! And, as always, thanks for stopping by!