Thank You, Sydney

Thank You, Sydney

[Repost with repaired link. Sorry everyone!]


A few days ago, I watched a video from Earthfire Institute of a woman doing a healing on a wolf, Apricot, who was suffering from inflammation of the spinal cord. The video is deeply moving. You can view it here.

Watching the video got me to thinking about a wild creature I had the honor of assisting many years ago, a seagull that I now call Sydney.


In the Water

It was a hot summer day in Chicago. I had been struggling with a piece of writing for several hours and needed to give my brain a rest, and so I headed out for a walk to the lake, a few miles away.

Sitting on the rocks, I looked out over my gorgeous lake. The water was clear and calm, gently lapping against the shore. The sky was pale blue and dotted with those fluffy white summer clouds that fill your heart with the ache of a peaceful summer afternoon.

After a few minutes of this luscious peace, I noticed something moving on the water, making small circles just to the left of my line of sight. I remember briefly thinking that it must be a duck. But a moment later, I snapped out of my trance, remembering that ducks don’t swim on Lake Michigan.

I turned to look more closely and saw a seagull, not an uncommon sight near the shore; one end of the beach a half-mile away was always filled with them. But this creature was alone. And he was swimming in an endless, tight circle. Looking more closely, I saw that his left wing was dragging behind him, skimming the surface of the water.

I couldn’t bear the thought of what was bound to happen to this creature: succumbing to exhaustion, dying alone. My heart ached for him.

I had only been practicing Reiki for about a year, but already it was a powerful force in my life. I thought, “When in doubt, try Reiki.” And so I stood up, drew the three primary Reiki symbols in the space in front of me, looked at the struggling seagull, and invited him to follow me to the beach, where he could come to shore amid others of his kind.

He turned to face me, treading water, and then began to swim parallel to the rocky shore, following me as I led the way. He couldn’t swim as quickly as I could walk, so from time to time, I would stop in a shady spot, it was so very hot that day, and wait for him to catch up. When he pulled up even to me, he would stop, turn and face me, waiting. I drew the Reiki symbols anew and once again set off towards the beach.

We were about a third of the way to our destination, when he came upon a pier of sorts, blocking his path. It was only about 15 feet long, made of rock and concrete and wood, protruding maybe three feet above the water. I’d seen it hundreds of times before, but never really noticed it. Now I wondered how it had come to be there, what its purpose was.

My seagull (my heart had already claimed him), swam right up to this blockade. I held my breath as he tried to flap his wings and jump onto it, but he only had one useful wing, and so his effort to gain dry land couldn’t work, and he fell back into the water.

He looked as though he was going to try again, but I was so fearful for his safety that I asked him to please go around the pier. I said the words silently. “Please, go around. Swim around. It’s not that far.”

He hesitated for a moment, treading water, still looking at the pile of rock and concrete and wood, but then did as I asked. He swam the 15 feet to the end of the pier, swam around it, and then returned to his spot parallel to the shore. Treading water, he looked at me. I refreshed the Reiki symbols and we set off once again.


On the Beach


Our journey of half a mile took us close to an hour to complete.

As we approached the edge of the beach, thick with seagulls, my friend, my teacher, swam around another, smaller pier, this time needing no instruction. He did not return to his place by my side but, seeing the flock, positioned himself to join them. When he walked up on the beach, I instinctively moved towards him, but he flapped his one wing in warning (the other wing dragged uselessly in the sand) and ran backwards, away from me.

I understood that it was time for me to leave.

A lifeguard was walking the beach not far from us. I stopped him, told him our story, asked if he knew of a wildlife refuge in the city, someone who could help my seagull. He looked at me as though he couldn’t quite comprehend what I was saying. “He followed you all the way from there?” he said, pointing to the place, so far away now, where our journey had begun.

“Yes,” I said, not yet realizing how sacred this journey had been, how utterly amazing.

He instructed me to go to the boathouse at the other end of the beach and look for the lifeguard supervisor. He said the supervisor would be able to help me. Then he said, “I get off in a little while. I’ll make sure he takes care of this.”

“Do you promise?” I said.

He said that he did.

I walked to the end of the beach. I looked, but couldn’t find the supervisor or anyone who could tell me where he might be. But I trusted the young man to keep his word, and so I went home with a peaceful heart, believing I had done all that I could do.


Back  Home


That night, I finally returned to my desk, to the writing I had needed a break from that afternoon. After an hour or so, at about 10 pm, I felt a presence in the room. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was, but I quickly realized it was my seagull. He insisted I leave my desk and tend to him.

I sat on the couch in the living room, lit a candle, and took him (not literally, of course) into my lap. I drew the Reiki symbols in the space in front of me, said a prayer for healing, and held his body, the idea of his body, in my hands. About twenty minutes later, he was gone. I wished him well and returned to my desk.

The next night, again at about 10 pm, I felt my seagull’s presence, urging me to leave my desk and tend to him. I again sat on the couch with his beautiful self in my lap and shared a Reiki healing with him.

The following night, at the same time, my beautiful friend called me away from my desk once again and directed me to assist him. But this time was different. At the end of this third session, just before he vanished, he stood tall on my lap, fully extended his wings, and slowly flapped them with tremendous power and grace.


I did not know, and probably will never know, if Sydney’s wing had mended, whether he was alive or had left this earth. I did not know if he had been accepted by the flock or had been pecked to death, if he had managed to feed himself or had died of starvation. I did not know if he had been rescued and cared for by humans, if he had been returned to the wild.

All I knew, and the knowledge broke over me in a warm wave, was that Sydney had been healed.

Thank you for teaching me the meaning of healing, dear Sydney, for your courage and persistence, your wisdom and grace.  Blessings to you, my friend.



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