Every fall we pack up our family to visit the local fish ladder and watch as tens of thousands of salmon impressively make their way back from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. I say "impressively" for two reasons. The journey is not easy, for one. But perhaps most impressive is the fact that after each of these salmon navigate their way through feeding grounds across the north Pacific, they return as mature salmon to the very creek they were born. The very same creek. Amazing.
But how do they do this? Recent studies point to a homing instinct tied to the earth's magnetic field that guides them to the very place they entered the sea as young salmon. After that, olfactory clues kick in, helping them find their way to their specific natal stream.
My older children understand a lot of this from school and in these photos I see them fascinated by these great salmon acting on pure instinct.
I don't think we're much different. Only we're so "clever" that we sometimes override the instinct that would guide us home. It's really our privilege to do so--a God-given right to exercise agency and choose for ourselves.
I know my children, like all of us, will sometimes override their pure instincts toward their heavenly home. This is part of the mortal experience we're here for--not necessarily to wander, but to exercise our agency in the pursuit of exaltation. When we've chosen to set aside the natural inclinations of our spirit, when we wander and are lost, we can find hope and home in the Savior.
I hope my children understand this, too.