Young salmon pass through several growth stages: egg, alevin, fry, parr and smolt. As they grow they face many dangers. Still, their direction is downstream, with the current.
- Likewise, the person of faith starts out feeding on basic teachings & going with the flow. They accept the basics of faith at face value and ask few questions. Distinctions between good & evil, right & wrong seem self-evident.
After a year or more, smolts begin adjusting to salt water & grow strong enough to move out into deep water. As they grow into adulthood they face many challenges: orcas, fishermen & sea lions, to name a few. These encounters can make them stronger.
- Sooner or later, people on a faith journey move into “deep water”– sometimes intentionally but often because of circumstances beyond their control: life crises challenge the simple assumptions of early faith. Questions–often deep questions–bubble up. Doubts surface. Contradictions become inescapable. These experiences– often painful–can take a person to a new level of faith, very different from where they started out.
Now begins the most difficult stage of the cycle: returning to the fish’s original home. The adult salmon faces familiar challenges: eagles, fishermen, dams–all while swimming upstream. They have a singular focus: the nurture & well-being of the next generation.
- As people of faith grow into maturity they, too, learn to swim upstream. They are willing to take unpopular & public stands, especially (like Jesus himself) on behalf of those who have little voice in society or who have been swept aside.
Finally–death. All salmon, whether or not they succeed in returning to their spawning grounds, die. Even in death, their bodies continue to nourish plants & animals by releasing nutrients as they are washed toward the sea. In this way, the fish live on.
- For mature people of faith, instincts toward self-interest & self- preservation claim less of their energy. Their goal is new life for others.
Knowing there is no “bad” stage & that the cycle may be repeated many times in a person’s life, where are you in your journey?