The rescue of the gull

In today’s column, a woman shares how an encounter with a man struggling to free a seagull from a fishing line led to gratitude for our ability to acknowledge and feel God’s care.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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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.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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