This place is lovely. I’ve already said it, I know. But it is. I took some pictures yesterday and they were lost even to the mind of God when I tried to download them from my camera to my laptop. I am disappointed because some of the pictures were pretty good. This is the first time my Mac has really let me down, but there you have it. The picture I’ve used comes from my iPhone.
There’s also the kindness of the leader of our gathering and the hospitality of the people who are helping him. It turns out that Tom gathers in “peeps” from all around the church, people of all ages and backgrounds. Some of them are brand new, tender and radiant shoots of hope for our denomination, there are others of us who’ve been in the trenches for a while and are tired, some who are really wise and have an amazing way with words. He gathers us together to learn and figure out some new stuff, but also to give us time to take care of each other and be taken care of in a way that doesn’t happen a whole lot out where we do our work.
Yesterday I learned something about salmon. Right now, the salmon are running here on Bowen Island—I got to see some of them who have been out in the Pacific for four or more years and have come to spawn where they themselves were born, the one last, emphatic yes before death. At some point late in life, a salmon is in the general vicinity of the creek that held him or her safe till birth. It is when he or she gets a taste—a miniscule taste—of the stream that he or she came from, and recognizes that taste as home, that the salmon knows where to go; that taste keeps guiding him or her to what had been the beginning and is now the end of life.
I am filled with awe to think that the water of a creek is particular enough, distinct enough, that even in the ocean, where it meets an unimaginable amount of other water not of the same source, that creek is still so recognizably itself that it can call its own back home. I am awestruck as well with the notion that a small taste can tug and pull a creature back to the only place it truly belongs, or at least belongs enough to both be born and die there.
Today is my birthday and I am pretty far removed from everything that is most known and familiar to me. That seems fitting today. I figure I’m like the salmon who is still far, far out in the ocean. I’m thankful today for how vast that ocean is and how far I have travelled.