It was a tiny, black and yellow puffball of feathers. He was exhausted and took refuge aboard Santa Teresa, our old, wooden sailboat.
It was a perfect day for sailing. The seas were calm off Point Loma and the winds were fresh. Ryan, Derek, and Preston joined Jan and I for one of the best days sailing we’d experienced in San Diego.
The winds caught us as we unfurled our sails and we raced out to sea towards Catalina. Dolphins played around us and Santa Teresa threw up a fine white froth that streamed down the sides as we cut through a bright blue sea. We were laughing and enjoying the day and had just passed into international waters, three miles off the coast, when this tiny ball of feathers flew into the cockpit and darted through the hatch and into the cabin below.
“That was a bird!” someone shouted and just as suddenly the little bird flew out an open porthole, circled us and landed on the rail beside me. Its tiny heart was pounding as it sat there, a fugitive from the sea.
“The wind must have blow him out to sea.”
The little bird hopped down the rail and then flew around the boat before seeking the safety of the rail again. After our feathered friend repeated this exercise several times, Jan ran below and filled a pan of cool, fresh water and re-appeared on deck with pieces of apple, crusts of bread and the pan of water. She carefully set them down on the deck beside the cabin, then stepped back and watched for our little friend to return. He did and looked long and hard at the treats Jan had prepared for him but it must have seemed too good to be true. Our little friend took off and we lost sight of him. Perhaps he hitched a ride on a better boat and made it safely to Catalina.
Later that evening, after we had put the boat away, Jan and I were talking about the little bird. Jan sadly shook her head, “All I wanted to do was help that little bird. He was so small and so desperate. I didn’t want to hurt him. I wanted to give him some water and something tasty to eat. He could have rested and we could have given him a ride back to his friends in San Diego.”
She took another spoonful of soup and looked at me. “John, that must be how God feels. He wants to help us but sometimes we run away. Sometimes the good news must seem too good to be true and all we do is hurt ourselves and break God’s heart.”
Little bird, please send us a postcard from Catalina. We hope you made it.
Thanks to Ryan Gunnells for the photograph!