One night a little after sunset while biking on the jetty at a nearby beach, I saw a lone man about 50 feet away, peacefully fishing at the jetty’s tip. It was a picture-perfect scene.
As I dismounted my bike to more fully appreciate the surrounding beauty and fading light, I realized the man was struggling with his fishing line. He had caught not a fish, but a seagull. The tip of its wing was looped around the fishing line, and the gull, in panic mode, was making it worse. The gull didn’t let up trying to flee, especially when the man came closer to cut the line as short as he could. The gull was clearly starting to exhaust itself, and the light was dimming fast. Freedom seemed almost impossible, and ultimately the man retreated off the wet rocks and began packing his gear.
It didn’t help matters any when a man in a skiff, who had been watching this whole thing from his perspective, motored up and hollered at the fisherman for not doing better. The fisherman dejectedly turned away and saw that I too had been watching. I could almost hear him thinking, “Oh boy, here comes another reprimand.”
Instead, my heart went out to the man and the gull, and I turned to God in prayer, something I’ve found helpful so many times before. Earlier that day, I’d been reflecting on some passages in a book that has helped me love and understand the Bible, particularly the life and words of Christ Jesus. The book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, explains the power of the Christ – the divine Truth Jesus represented. Christian Science explains that the Christ is God’s healing message of love for everyone, and that this message comes to each one of us, as it came with such healing power through Jesus. So everyone is inherently capable of feeling and expressing God’s infinite love.
The passages I had pondered refer to Christ “casting out evils” and illustrating “the coincidence, or spiritual agreement, between God and man in His image” (pp. 332-333). As God’s spiritual image, we reflect God’s infinite goodness and are completely cared for by Him, the divine Principle, which is Love. My thought was uplifted by these ideas. I saw that God’s supreme, infinite all-goodness is the spiritual reality of all that truly is, and I affirmed that it’s not chance but divine Love that governs and controls all creation. As Christ Jesus taught, even the sparrows are cared for by God (see Luke 12:6).
As I prayed, with joy I felt a sense of the fullness of the authority of God, good, and a deep conviction of the truths I was affirming.
I then felt impelled to hop onto some large boulders closer to the man. I was hearing and responding to the Christ, expressing spiritual love by cheering this man on. Although I was downwind, he heard me as I hollered out encouragement for him to continue, convinced that his noble efforts to free the gull would not be in vain.
He beamed, gave me a thumbs up, and then stepped back down onto the wet boulders close to the water’s edge where the recovering gull was perched, and redoubled his efforts. This time he was able to cut off a second portion of the line, and we were both rewarded by seeing the gull gently float away, with frayed but intact pinions, paddling toward his brother and sister birds on some nearby rocks.
Beside the joy of seeing the gull freed, the takeaway for me was a childlike, heartfelt gratitude for our ability to pray, to acknowledge – and feel – God’s care, in whatever situation we may find ourselves. The Christly inspiration such prayer brings blesses us, and others. It enables us to encourage and buoy those we encounter.