Saturday, June 30, 2018

Seagull Blessing

The Mystery within...
“Grandma, this was the most impressive walk I have ever been on.” Words spoken by my eleven-year-old grandson, Kason, as we returned to my car, tired, wet and muddy, but oh so impressed with our seagull blessing.  It was my birthday.  I had called my grandchildren to see if anyone wanted to walk to the beach with my yellow lab Oliver and me.  Kason said yes to the invitation.  

Long before Kason was born, a Shepherd/Husky named Bear and I would walk across a vast field, then on a narrow bare earth path that wound down into a deep quiet valley with a meandering stream winding its way out into Lake Michigan.  A frequent destination for Bear and me was to walk north up the shore from the valley’s opening to the remains of an old car that still lies there, now mostly buried in the sand.  In “God Never Hurries” I wrote:  

“This one odd piece of misplaced wreckage never appeared to be offensive litter. It is more an artifact, a relic of time. I wondered what it looked like when it was new and fully in service. Who rode in it? Who cared for it? How did it come to rest in such an unlikely place? Who pushed it over the bluff? How long will it take for all the rust to melt into new life? I felt a kinship with this old departing soul.”

I told Kason about the old car on the beach and we both wanted to go there.  Now we did not walk through the valley but on a wide gravel path to a wooden stairway down to the beach.  (I miss the old dirt path and quiet valley route.)  On the beach, recent heavy rains brought down intermittent mudslides off the high bluff, along with some tree debris we had to crawl over, making progress to the old car awkward and slow.   As I started to climb over yet more branches, Kason asked, “Grandma, is it much farther?”  Then I was startled by what I saw on the other side of the debris—a seagull in great distress.  I climbed down and walked toward the flailing gull, looked into its gray terrified eyes and spoke gently from my heart.  The bird stopped flaying and let me pick it up.  One wing tip was caught in multiple fishhooks and a sinker all tightly wound in fishing line around its mangled wing.  From my heart I said,  “We are going to help you.”  How? I had no idea.  I gently set the bird down on the sand and it stayed quiet.  Kason unwound some of the extended fishing line that was also attached to a downed branch, while I looked in my backpack.  Not much there except some cookies, two water bottles and a mosquito net that slips over my hat that I threw in my pack as a last minute afterthought.  As I gently slipped the frightened gull into the netting, I again told it, “We are going to help you” and then rested the bird in the crook of my left arm.  The seagull looked content there and I relaxed some as we headed back down the beach.

Now I just walked in the water around the mud and debris and where debris went too far into the water, I would have Kason crawl over first and then I’d hand off our bird to him so I could use all my extremities to get me up and over.  In the hand off I would tell Kason, “Gentle, gentle.”  And amazingly our bird stayed calm.  As I walked back down the beach, with the gull nestled in my arm, I thought of how many people in our world are hooked, bound, terrified and need help.  A soft grief filled me.  

When we got closer to the wooden stairs, and started encountering others on the beach, I would ask, “By chance, might you have a pocketknife?”  They would look puzzled and then I would nod to the seagull in the crook of my arm, who was now starting to feel like a part of me.  Surprise lit their faces.  I explained its plight.  With sincere regret responses were, “Oh I’m so sorry, no I don’t have a knife.”  At the base of the stairs I remembered I once counted there are ninety steps up to the top.  So we started our slow climb back up the stairs.  Just as we reached the top a young man with a backpack came bounding up the steps and said, “I heard someone needs a knife.”  My heart leapt for joy for I now knew there was a plan. And then two Asian men up top offered nail clippers to also aid in the freeing.  So while I gently held our bird, others sniped and cut away the hooks, line and sinker.  Pictures were taken and gratitude expressed all around.  

I knew I had to walk back down those stairs to release the bird in the water for it was its best chance for recovery.  Standing in the water’s edge I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings the seagull brought—for allowing me to feel a part of it and it a part of me—for the kindness of the people on the beach who sent the young man with the back pack and knife, and the teamwork that cut our bird free; and for knowing we are all in fact one, here to help one another be free.  After I gently slipped off the net and lowered the gull into the water, it hesitated as if wondering if it could now move freely.  I lit up with joy when it started to paddle.  And when it was about fifty feet out into the lake it turned and looked at me.  I said, “You’re welcome.”  Then Kason and I headed back up the wooden stairs and path back to my car.    

We are, in fact, all one. We don’t have to look too far to find others needing to be free from discrimination, greed, and poverty.  Be gentle.  Think and act from your heart. Trust others will come and help you help. 

What if we all got to feel one with one another?  


  1. What a beautiful story and lesson - that we know
    oneness with all beings.
    Thank you Marcia,

    1. Thanks Cathy, It is a transformative message that I pray we all come to know.