Several years ago, Cathy and I were fly-fishing on the Trinity River just below Lewiston Dam near an old bridge. It is a beautiful stretch of the river east of Weaverville near the town of Lewiston, CA.. This section of the river begins with a deep pool that widens out into a shallow, mirror-like, slow-moving slick. Then the river narrows and picks up speed moving into what is called the tail-out. The tail-out narrows and becomes white water: This is called the riffle. The riffle dumps into a pool. The cycle repeats itself throughout the entire Trinity River.
We were wading in the water while fishing in the beginning of the tail-out. I looked across the nearly fifty yards wide river at a small eddy of slow moving water on the opposite bank. Although it was during the full afternoon sun, two raccoons were making their way out of the woods and moving towards the small backwater. I observed what was making them so bold. There was a spawned out salmon - black backed and swimming in the eddy. The salmon must have sensed their presence because she disappeared into the tail-out of the river. The raccoons were no longer as bold after the disappearance of their lunch. They retreated into the shelter of the nearby woods.
Then, I saw it: It was magnificent. Just above the fast moving riffle at the tip of the tail-out, the salmon burst forth from the fast moving water arching its whole body and throwing droplets of water in the afternoon sun like a spray of diamonds. She burst forth a second time, then a third, and finally for the fourth time - each time she gained distance until she landed back into the slow moving waters of the slick. Then, she slowly finned her way to about thirty feet above Cathy and I on our side of the river. There, in safety, she continued her process. I knew that I witnessed something very special; but I did not understand.
When I returned to our home, I called a member of the church who worked for California State Fish and Game. I described the behavior of the salmon. He said that the answer was very magical and very simple. He explained that most people know that salmon are born in the river, go out to sea, and then return to the same place to spawn. However, in addition, the salmon are biologically hard-wired to die in the same section of the river also. The salmon have an instinct to resist the river current trying to carry them out to sea because their flesh becomes food for their offspring. He said that I was witnessing the power of nature at work to provide for the future! If only we complex human beings were as biologically hard-wired as the salmon to provide for our future as a church, as a community, and as a nation.