The sea gulls who daily fly past our house have a regular pattern: east to
the rock called Norman's Woe in the morning, west to Kettle Island in the
evening, with the setting sun rouging their feathers to glowing pink.
Sometimes, in a strong wind, they sail up and over our house, but they do
not land nearer than the sea-washed rocks. One day I was surprised to find
a lone gull sitting on our deck. There was something odd about the way he
sat, and the shape of his head. Moving to the window I saw that he had the
plastic rings from a six-pack of drinks clamped in his bill and circling
his neck. He sat very quietly, a little hunched, his head tipped
inquiringly. He was caught in the rings, unable to close his beak. Was he
perhaps, by daring to perch on our deck, asking for help? Slowly I opened
the door and tiptoed toward him. His fierce bright eyes followed me
unblinking, but he did not move. When, incredulous, I nearly touched him,
off he flew.
Captive to one of the complicated "blessings" of civilization that sea
gulls were never meant to cope with, my gull will have starved to death by
That ninety seconds or so on our deck brought to focus once more a phrase
I turn over and over in my mind: the redemption of creation.
"Redemption? But animals have no souls!" someone objects. Have they not?
My Bible tells me of a great hope shared not only by angels and men and
women, but "all things, whether in heaven or on earth" (Colossians 1:20);
it tells me that all is to be "brought to unity in Christ" (Ephesians
1:10). What can this mean if not that in some way unimaginable to us now
the suffering sea gull, along with all feathered, furred, scaled, and
carapaced creatures, will be redeemed? "The universe itself is to be freed
from the shackles of mortality" (Romans 8:19). Will not our ears someday
hear the Song of the Animals? I think so. I pin my hopes on the vision of
John: "Then I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under
the earth and in the sea, all this is in them, crying, Praise and honor
and glory and might to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever
and ever" (Revelation 5:13).
Copyright 1989, by Elisabeth Elliot
all rights reserved.