July 27th, 2006
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I have meant to share the “Star Fish Story” with you for some time. Many of you have probably already seen this, but it is one that “gets me” every time I read it. I couldn’t find where it originated, but there are many, many versions out there that are all variations on the same story.

Once upon a time, there was a wise old man,
who went to the sea to contemplate.

One day, while walking along the shore,
the wise old man looked down the beach,
and saw a gracefully dancing human figure.
The wise old man wondered out loud,

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“Who would be dancing all alone on the beach?”
He began to walk faster to catch up.
Getting closer, the wise man saw that the dancer
was a child, who was not dancing at all.
The child was reaching down to the sand to pick up
something, and was very gently throwing it into the sea.
The man called out to the child,
“Good Morning! What are you doing?”
The child paused, looked up and replied,
“Throwing Starfish into the sea.”
Surprised, the man said,
“Yes, I see that, but WHY are you throwing Starfish into the sea?”
The child smiled brightly, pointed upward and
with perfect simplicity replied,
“The sun is up, and the tide is going out.
If I don’t throw them in, they will die.”
“But, don’t you realize, “asked the man,
“that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it?
You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The child listened politely.
Then bent down, picked up another Starfish,
threw it gently into the sea, just beyond the breaking waves,
and joyfully declared,
“It made a difference for that one.”

I often feel like telling the “Star Fish Story” every time someone tells me that I “can’t change the world.” Maybe not, but I can change the world for a few, and in return, they have changed mine.

While the world’s suffering and problems may seem overwhelming and too “big” for us to really make any difference, every one Starfish matters, and there are countless ways that each of us can help throw them back into the ocean.

3 Responses to “The Star Fish Story”

  1. crathke says:

    Erin, that is one of my favorite stories and one I think of often (especially when people ask why we aren’t thinking of adopting again). My mother even calls our son her “little starfish”.

    It’s a beautiful allegory and one that definately bears repeating. Thanks!

  2. FosterPodcast says:

    We just came up with a new and improved version of this story. You might enjoy checking it out.

    http://fosterpodcast.com/episode-90-starfish-story/

  3. [...] sought to inspire the audience and she told the allegory of the starfish.  After a bad storm, thousands of starfish had washed up on a beach.  A young boy decided to walk [...]

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