“I called out to God to help me.” I’ve often heard these words spoken as a testimony in a crisis that someone has faced in the past or is facing in the present. The word ‘help’ came to mind as I sat in the car at Southwold harbour. It was such a grey, misty day that I couldn’t see the panoramic view towards Sizewell on the opposite headland. To my consternation I made out the image of a fully grown cygnet swimming, or should I say being carried along by the outgoing tide, to the harbour entrance.
I was willing the cygnet to turn around and swim in the opposite direction, past the boats and fishing huts so that it could reach the safety of the marshes the other side of the bridge. Eventually, almost at the harbour entrance, the bird did turn, but it was too late. It looked as though it was swimming backwards but, in fact, the current was still carrying it out into the open sea. The only hope this desperate cygnet had was to try and reach some rocks at the side of the entrance, but I feared it would not be able to do so.
The sad thing about the situation was that the cygnet had made the wrong choice. Behind the harbour road and fish huts, there is extensive marshland drained by the dykes. It is quite usual for swans to breed there in the summer amidst the grazing cattle and sheep. As the summer draws to a close, the parent swans encourage their brood to go off to fend for themselves. The cygnets leave the dyke and are often seen either walking northwards to the town or south towards the river. Once they reach the river, it is far better to go west inland, rather than east towards the sea. I did wonder if they would have any sixth sense as to which direction they should go. Possibly we could say that this bird wouldn’t have had any idea of what would be the end of its trip down the river. I realised afresh how we could find ourselves caught up in a crisis which may or may not be the result of our choices. What we do know is that it is all heading in the wrong direction. I can fully understand someone’s need to call out to God for help. I would know he would be there to help, and it gives, hope, encouragement and comfort. It is good to reach out beyond ourselves rather than live in a moment of despair when it seems as though tragic circumstances can overwhelm us. I don’t know what happened to the cygnet, but I do know that when we cry out to God, he is there for us.