THE STARFISH THROWER
Almost every time I pray Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5), I invariably think about how Christ’s act of love, to save us from death and give us a chance at life everlasting, relates to those circumstances and experiences of my life. This is how I find meaning and value in those things that even happened to me a long time ago. One such story that impacted me then and still holds me in its grip now is the story of the starfish thrower as told by Joel Barker, one of the ten people that have influenced my life for the better. I would like to share it with you to give you some idea of how Philippians 2:5 is like the starfish thrower, the story of Christ.
Watch the story of the starfish thrower at least twice. Write down what Joel Barker says about vision and action at the end of the piece. Then, I want you to address these questions and use them as your meditation (that may lead to contemplation).
In this video, a man comes across someone throwing starfish into the ocean. He asks him how the starfish thrower could possibly make a difference to the starfish population. The man replied, “I made a difference to that one.” Think about Philippians 2:5-12. Christ is the one throwing starfish into the water so they can live and not die. We are the starfish on the beach of life. We don’t deserve to be given life again, but because of Christ’s love, we have life.
Each of us who realizes that what the man is doing by throwing starfish back into the ocean is meaningful and the purpose of our life is like the man who came upon the stranger throwing back starfish, and we want to help him do so. We join with the stranger to give others life. Christ is the stranger; we are now the man who came up to him and asked him what he was doing and decided to help him throw back starfish. We are helpers of Christ to give life to those we throw back into the ocean of God’s love.
Read the Star Thrower Story transcript by Joel Barker and answer the questions at the end.
“There’s a story I would like to share with you. It was inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley. Eiseley was a very special person because he combined the best of two cultures. He was a scientist and a poet. And from those two perspectives, he wrote insightfully and beautifully about the world and our role in it.
Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one!”
His response surprised the man. He was upset. He didn’t know how to reply. So instead, he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.
All day long as he wrote, the image of the young man haunted him. He tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed out on the essential nature of the young man’s actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrased.
That night he went to bed troubled. When the morning came he awoke knowing that he had to do something. So he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man. And with him he spent the rest of the morning throwing starfish into the ocean. You see, what that young man’s actions represent is something that is special in each and everyone of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like that young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.
And that is your challenge. And that is my challenge.
We must each find our starfish. And if we throw our
stars wisely and well, I have no question that
the 21st century is going to be a wonderful place.
Remember Vision without action is a dream.
Action without vision is simply passing the time.
Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”
Jesus had a vision for us (Philippians 2:5-12) to give us the chance at life. Christ has made a difference in how we humans relate with God, God is now one of us and we are adopted sons and daughters. We must love others as Christ loved us, some of us by throwing back star fish into the ocean with Him. The ocean is the limitless love of God for all of humanity.
Christ has a vision of what He wanted for us but he also emptied himself and died for us on the cross as his proof or action of love. Action with Vision is making a positive difference and what a difference that was because of us. How does being a Lay Cistercian fit into being a star thrower? Like the star thrower, if you like this blog, throw it to someone else in the ocean of life.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit now and forever. The God who is, who was and who is to come at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology