by Nan Corbitt Allen
They’re loud and demanding and messy.
No, I AM NOT talking about my grandchildren. I’m talking about seagulls.
Recently, my husband and I were on the Gulf Coast of Florida for a few days of R & R. We spent a couple of those days just sitting on the beach watching the waves and the dolphins roll in and out of our view. Though I’ve been to the beach many times, I always learn something each time I go. (Maybe it’s because I choose to look for something new.) Anyway, this time I chose to watch and learn from the seagulls.
They’re scavengers, no doubt, and they find no shame in begging for morsels from unsuspecting beachcombers. Observation: don’t throw out anything edible if you don’t want to reenact a horror scene from a Hitchcock movie. This I already knew.
Observation: seagulls are almost always found in flocks. You hardly ever see one alone (no matter what the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull implies). Sometimes it’s a small flock, sometimes a huge herd. But I knew that, too.
But I did learn something new: seagulls in a flock, while on the ground, all face in the same direction. It was funny at first. A single gull might fly off for a few minutes, then return, but resumed the position of the others. It was as if he was compelled to fit in, or maybe careful not to ruffle the feathers of a higher-up in the pecking order? Was it east or west or something else that determined which way they all faced?
Finally, it dawned on me. They all faced into the wind.
When I got home, I did a little research and found that this was exactly what they were doing. It was the wind that determined their on-ground direction, and for a bird of flight, that is important. Seagulls need to vacate the beach quickly when danger arrives or when a food source suddenly becomes available. If their tail feathers are facing the wind, they would be less aerodynamic because of getting saltwater, sand, or debris under their down and feathers. So they protect themselves from harm by always being ready for flight by leaning into the wind.
Birds of flight have differences in their flight patterns. Eagles soar to great heights. So do I sometimes. Ducks can fly long distances but not necessarily so high. Sometimes perseverance is required of me.
But seagulls stand on the shore, feel the wind on their beaks, and wait for the next thing.
We go through different seasons in life. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Right now, I’m not soaring to great heights or flapping furiously for distance. I actually find myself …waiting…leaning into the wind, and trying to respond as the wind changes, ready for whatever is coming.
While God requires us to wait, sometimes all we can do is keep our face into the wind and be ready for when He finally says “go.”
My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 NASB
About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.
Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.
Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Join the conversation: What has God revealed to you about Himself lately?