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 now. 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.