Seagull and the leaf

This is how I came to know that God is real.

I was not feeling good. Work was not great. Home life was not great. I was not great. I walked to work each day, it only took about ten minutes but that ten minutes seemed like the only slightly peaceful time. There wasn’t anything bad going on exactly. Work wasn’t a hassle, it was just boring, it was bland. Most things were bland and grey.

I didn’t have much in the way of energy. I didn’t have the drive to do anything other than the essentials. But that was okay because I didn’t want to anyway. I couldn’t concentrate. I’m working at a desk all day and it requires use of the brain. But that brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I found it hard to sleep. And when I did sleep it was only a light and restless one.

My memory wasn’t great. I was doing things like putting the coffee in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard. And I was angry. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was angry about. And sometimes I did.

I went to the doctor. I didn’t really want to go but everything was so blah that I just wanted some respite from it all.

I knew my memory wasn’t great so I carefully memorised my symptoms and explained to the doctor. She listened. She said it sounded like I had depression. We talked about my family, work and so on. I don’t know that I felt any better by talking but at least I felt as if I was doing something to make this all go away.

She put me on anti-depressants. This was a few years ago. I hope that anti-depressants have improved since then. It was like having a local anaesthetic at the dentist. Numb. Like the numbness that creeps over your face. Except this was inside my mind. I felt detached. Disconnected. It was bad enough before but the dullness in my head with the drugs was actually worse.

I went back to the doctor. I told her I felt that the anti-depressants weren’t working. I was naive – I was actually expecting them to make me happy. We talked some more. Particularly about my mum who I hadn’t seen in about sixteen years. And then the doctor asked me if I believed in God. Oh great, I thought. The pills haven’t worked so now she’s going to try religion. I didn’t believe. Nothing specific anyway. I had thought reincarnation was a comforting way of living forever with no effort – at least that’s how reincarnation worked in my head. And I had read about Zen Buddhism – which I didn’t understand but it had a mystical “if you don’t understand it, there must be something to it” quality.

She asked if I would pray that God would make himself known to me. This seemed quite a big thing to ask. Like asking God for a sign. But by this point I was so desperate I would have tried anything. I went home and in a quiet moment in my daughter’s bedroom I prayed that if God was there, he would let me know.

I listened. Nothing. No booming voice from the heavens. I looked for an angel bursting through the sky. Lightning. Anything. But there wasn’t.

The next day I went to work. It was early, I was alone in the office. I looked out of the window and saw a leaf being blown by the wind. That’s me, I thought. A dry, dead leaf being blown by the wind.

And then I looked up and saw a seagull. Hovering. Gliding. And I thought – the leaf is like me, being blown along by the wind, not knowing anything, not even being aware of the wind. But the seagull knows the wind is there, it can turn and be lifted and soar into the sky. It’s the same wind, but the leaf has no knowledge, it doesn’t know the wind exists. The seagull knows that it’s there. And that makes the difference. That’s what it’s like to be someone who knows God is there.

I felt so uplifted, as if every piece of black depression had been blown away. In that moment, I knew that God was real. It was like a piece of a puzzle I didn’t know I was doing had clicked into place.

I am so grateful to God that he opened my eyes. What I saw wasn’t a miracle in as much as I saw ordinary things, everyday things. But the miracle was what these things said to me, what they meant.

I have experienced depression since then. I have done some really stupid things. I have not lead a “good” life. I’ve not been a great example or an inspiration. But when everything else falls apart and I find myself down, there is a hope that doesn’t come from this world. Something bigger than my own disappointments and failures and regrets and worries. The hope that comes from God.

This is how I came to know that God is real.

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2 Comments to “Seagull and the leaf”

  1. Exceelent to read Geoff. Thanks for sharing. Everything sounds so familair, it could be my story too.

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