I stood looking at the ocean saturated by self-pity. Who was I? What was I supposed to do on this earth? And why did I keep gaining weight? You know, all of the big questions of life.
As the waves moved in and out, I was overtaken by emotion. I love the sea, but I resent the fact that it always makes me cry. For me, the ocean is like nature’s own Nicholas Sparks movie.
I suppose, as Lee Ann Womack sings, I still feel small when I stand beside the ocean. It’s as if every breaking wave is a powerful and breathy whisper from God. And, since I can’t swim, standing and staring at the ocean is about as deep as it gets for me.
On this particular day, I was frustrated with my life, as well as God’s obvious lack of concern for me conveyed through a silence that had become annoying. I stood on the sand and, literally, stomped my feet like a five year-old.
Yes, I got sassy with God . . . .
“Where are you, anyway?” I railed, causing the older couple walking past me to pick up their speed, providing a wide emotional berth. “I’ve been calling on you for over a year, and I still have no answers. Not one. I’m sick of it.”
I noticed the little sandpipers running towards the water and then away from it, much like The Monkees did in the beginning of their 1960’s television show. This action usually made me laugh, but on this day, I was disgusted by their lack of courage. As I glared at the nervous little white birds with the spindly legs, I noticed one bird who stood still.
In the middle of the sandpipers stood a small raven. . .
He let the water run over his bird feed without running. Respect, I thought. If I could have pounded it out with his little claw, I would have.
Suddenly, he looked at me in that quick, cockeyed way that birds do. I softened a little. I was reminded that God has always spoken to me through birds.
“Okay, God, if this is you, then show me,” I demanded. Even though every religion in the world teaches you not to test God, I was going for it. Although I did check the sky for dark clouds, just in case.
The small raven left the water and began to hop towards me. There was nobody else within three hundred feet of me, so I focused my eyes on the bird. I guess I was waiting for him to speak, and praying that he wouldn’t say, “Nevermore.”
After about twenty seconds, the raven got within three feet of me. Then he did a weird thing – his little bird feed created a pattern as he hopped around me in a perfect circle.
I watched him carefully, trying not to make any sudden moves. The entire event probably took about forty-five seconds. Once he got back to the point where he had started forming the circle, he flew away.
And I felt comforted. . .
Maybe I’m too easy. Maybe that raven should have only gotten to my emotional first base. But, somehow, that circle made me feel loved. And even though I had no clear answer, I knew it would come.
It has taken almost three years since that incident to get a less-blurry picture of my future, and the journey continues. God and I have had a few more intense conversations since that time. But each time I spaz out, I remember the raven and the calm I felt after he flew away.
Nature has a way of doing that for me. Every time I really get angry, a bird approaches in some form and gives me a silent message of, “You are not alone. Chill.”
What part of nature speaks to you when you need it most?