Friday 23 October 2009

an instinctive journey back to the beginning

salmon leaping up the froth pot - river duddonthe froth pot - river duddon in the lake district

Salmon leaping at ‘The Froth Pot’, River Duddon, Lake District

On a damp, grey day under threatening skies the first of this years returning salmon were nearing their journey’s end in the higher reaches of the River Duddon. After a night of torrential rain the narrow gorge-like waterfalls of The Froth Pot were a formidable barrier to their progress back to the spawning grounds. In dismal light I was rewarded with one tolerably sharp frame of a salmon attempting to leap up the steepest of the falls, caught just as it was about to fall back into the powerful cascade. This fish was driven to try again and again. The instinct to return to the place of its birth was overwhelming.

Perhaps our human journey is little different. We migrate away from our birthing and travel downstream through our lives, free swimming through seemingly limitless ocean’s of possibility and promise. But satisfaction turns out to be illusory and fulfilment always just out of reach, until we change spiritual direction and begin travelling homeward towards that far-distant birthing place of our collective being and meaning in God. Faith turns out to be instinctive and purposeful. In the troublesome, upper reaches of the journey it takes all that we are, and more, to overcome the barriers. Such ‘leaps of faith’ are often against the cultural flow, upward through the torrents of secular certitude and religious scepticism. Such a difficult and demanding journey is the height of bad fashion in a society which is unaccustomed to anything other than ‘going with the flow’.

And there, at journey’s end, in the delightedly fast flowing and crystal clear waters of God’s presence – in that eternal place of beginning – we have come home. Here, with countercultural grace in a world of death and decay, we are called and freed to give of ourselves in bringing new life and hope to birth.  From this ‘in the beginning’ of divine love all else flows, and to it we are instinctively drawn to return.


  1. “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” -St. Augustine,