Last week we (my class) went to the "fish ladder". The salmon are running.
Each fall many, many salmon swim from Lake Michigan up the river to a place (I'm not sure where) where they spawn. This is designed into them - they must swim and spawn. To do otherwise is something that wouldn't enter into their lives - they swim upstream and spawn.
Grand Rapids used to have rapids - now we just have a series of dams. Unfortunately, this make it difficult for the salmon. (I took this short video with my cell phone - it didn't convert very well, but it's enough for you to get the "picture". You can easily see the first salmon leap, then there are three more trying.)
They jump and jump and jump and just can't quite make it over the dam by themselves. It's too big and they just can't do it.
Grand Rapids responded to the salmon's difficulty by building this. It's called the "fish ladder" and it provides a series of steps for the salmon to make their way up the river. But the river is wide and the way into the ladder is narrow. Most of the salman continue to fight the dam and run headlong into the cement wall time after time time.
(Original image is here) you can see the triangular structure on the other side - the small rectangle is the entrance to the ladder.
There is yet another obstacle for these fish. Each day that the salmon are running, there is a group of people standing in the river - with fishing poles. Sometimes the need to eat outweighs the drive to spawn. They get caught and (much of the time) smoked.
The salmon that make it into the fish ladder have to leap a series of steps and at the top, the opening back into the river is only a foot wide, another narrow way.
The reward is life - perhaps not for them, but for their species - exhausted from the struggle past the dam, the salmon continue up the river.
I was standing at the railing of the fish ladder, mesmorized by the running of the water (with the occasional splash of a salmon butting her head against cement).
I realized - that salmon is ME!
I have my "daily dams" - the cement walls that hurt my head after I smash into them a number of times. . Life is hard; my friend Phil tells me that "life is a testing ground, not a resting ground." Like the fish, there is "somebody" waiting to entangle me.
Unlike the salmon, I know that the narrow way is there. "In here", there is still work; the way is not easy. But it's better than "out there". "Out there", I can't even see over the "dams". The cement wall seems insurmountable - and it is, if I'm in my own strength. "In here" the steps are little and directed - they have a purpose. I can see over them. There is Somebody helping me.
We don't have to face our "daily dams" alone - our Help in time of struggles is right there beside us, waiting to guide us.
At the end of this life's struggles is the door into rest; eternity in His presence.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.