The passing of the sea gull
We are pleased to share this article that originally appeared in the April 4, 1927, issue of The Christian Science Monitor.
Two women sat upon the deck of an ocean liner in that sweetly satisfying silence which only true friends can understand. One of them had recently experienced what seemed to be the supreme tragedy of her life in the passing from her sight of a loved one, and there was still an ache in her heart which her friend had been endeavoring to assuage by tender, comforting assurances regarding Life and immortality. The one who had been listening sat quietly, her hands folded, trying to grasp what had just been said, and at the same time idly watching the sea gulls play about the mast as the ship plowed its way over the dancing waters. Presently she noticed that one of the gulls had left the others, circling ever higher and higher, until it was evident that it had separated itself from them altogether and was taking a course straight away from the ship. On and on it flew, steadily, surely, its strong white wings outspread, until it became but a mere speck in the sky and finally was lost sight of altogether.
But has the sea gull gone anywhere? thought the silent watcher, who was still pondering those comforting words she had just heard of the teaching of Christian Science regarding what is called death. Had that beautiful activity ceased? Was it not still identified with life, and strength, and vigor, and all that it possessed when it passed from her view? Had anything stopped? She suddenly sat up in her chair and gazed in almost startled interest at the blue far horizon, as into her consciousness there flowed an indescribable peace, the first she had known in many weary months. For she saw the truth of what her friend had been telling her and realized as never before that what had happened in her experience was just like the passing of the sea gull beyond her range of vision: it was still going on and on, even though her limited, human sense of sight could no longer follow it.
If I could see only a little farther, she thought. And that is exactly what Christian Science enables us to do—to see a little farther, or, in other words, to discern more clearly something of the great realities of being hidden to mortal sense. As one gains a greater understanding of Truth, as given in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science), he finds that his spiritual vision becomes enlarged as he grows each day into a better understanding of God and of man’s relationship to Him. As he continues to study and ponder this simple, practical, new-old religion—new as each morning with its fresh opportunities, as old as the Galilean hills among which Christ Jesus walked and taught—he finds that there is in it not only healing for the sick and reformation for the sinner, but comfort for the sorrowing. He sees that although his sea gull may not turn back in its onward flight, its going has lost its sting, and the words of Isaiah are once more marvelously fulfilled, “He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, … to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3).
Let us ever think aright about those who have passed beyond that blue horizon.
As one casts aside the cold mantle of sorrow in which he has enwrapped himself, and steps out into the warm sunshine of Truth, he finds that his experience has made his loved one not less dear to him, but, rather, more dear, because he has learned something of that universal divine love which does not confine itself to those who first love us, but holds all humanity in its embrace. He no longer cries out in the dark for the “touch of a vanished hand,” but reaches out his own to comfort and bless those others along life’s highway whose path for the moment is dark, too, and to tell them of the peace which is for all of God’s children, the peace which the world can never give or take away. Thus he proves the truth of what is written in Science and Health: “The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven” (p. 57).
Let us ever think aright about those who have passed beyond that blue horizon. They are in reality completely identified with that divine Life which knows no end because it knows no beginning. Let us never think of them as associated with anything else, but say in our hearts what the Shunammite woman of long ago said when questioned by Elisha’s servant about her son, whom the world called dead; for in response to the question, “Is it well with the child?” she answered, “It is well” (II Kings 4:26).