Loren Eiseley, while writing his book The Unexpected Universe, was walking along the ocean in Costabel early one morning. It was shortly after a storm had subsided and as he continued walking, he noticed that thousands of starfish had been washed up on the beach. Ahead of him was a gigantic rainbow of incredible perfection shimmering into existence. At the base of the rainbow stooped a little boy, gazing fixedly at an object in the sand. Eventually, he flung the object far beyond the breaking surf.
Eiseley went up to him and asked, "Son, what are you doing?"
The little boy answered, "I'm throwing starfish back into the sea because if I don't they're going to die."
"But there are thousands of starfish. In the larger scheme of things you're not going to make much of a difference to all these starfish."
The little boy looked up at him, stooped down again to pick up another starfish and, gently but quickly, flung it back into the ocean. "It's going to make a big difference to that one," he replied.
Eiseley was embarrassed, uncomfortable with the contrast of the little boy's youthful, innocent love for the living with his own hardened, "mature" indifference to death. He had nothing to say and left, continuing to walk on the beach but unable to get the picture of the little boy out of his mind. It was a moment of truth for Eiseley, of deep soul searching and self-confrontation.
In time, he returned to the star thrower, silently picked up a starfish and spun it far out into the waves. "I understand." he said quietly. "Call me another thrower."
Together, still under the hues of the rainbow, they spent hours throwing starfish back into the ocean. (via The Creative Communications Center)
Last year, at a concert, my wife and I decided to sponsor a young African boy through Compassion International. For just the value of one nice meal out, we can provide this young boy with nutrition, school supplies, and other essentials.
Reul Kalo is a ten-year-old Kenyan who lives with his parent and loves soccer. We keep a picture of him on the refrigerator, and, in addition to providing monthly support, we correspond with him occasionally. At Christmas we sent a little extra gift along with Christmas wishes. In his thank you letter, he said this, through an interpreter:
“Accept happy new year’s greetings from your sponsored child, Reul Kalo. The child says ‘thank you’ for the Christmas gift he received from you. The child says he bought school shoes, socks, shoe polish and a ruler. The child says he will be praying for you.” Along with the letter was a picture he drew of shoes, socks, shoe polish and a ruler.
It’s not much, but sponsoring this lad is something we can do. Others are adopting children from third world countries and from China, where girls are at serious risk.
The point is this: None of us can singlehandedly make a difference in the lives of all children in need. But, Mary Beth and I are blessed to make a difference to this one.