Little acts make big difference
Loren Eiseley was one of the great environmentalists and anthropologists of last century. He named one of his favorite stories, written the last year of his life, “The Star Thrower.”
As Eiseley was walking along a beach littered with starfish washed up and stranded on shore, he saw a boy picking them up, one by one, and throwing them back. “Why are you doing that?” Loren asked.
“If I don’t, they’ll die.”
“How much difference are you going to make?”
As he threw another one back, the boy said, “It’s going to make a whole lot of difference for this one.”
Loren returned home and couldn’t write any more that day. He couldn’t quit thinking about that boy. He returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping him. That night, when Eiseley went home, he wrote, “Call me another thrower.”
More than 40 years ago, the Ronald McDonald House opened in Louisville. A call went out for volunteers to befriend and serve families from out of town, like Corydon or Tell City, whose child was sick enough to need hospitalization in a children’s hospital. Myrtle said to her husband, “I think I could do that.” After two training sessions, something powerful happened within her. Some would call it an awakening. She began to think of it as her little work in the great work of extending hospitality to strangers. She began volunteering one day a month.
I once asked some difference-makers why they had moved from being a bystander to being a “thrower.” Myrtle, almost 90, talked about her Ronald McDonald House training and her subsequent 40 years of service. Such a paltry little thing, and for only one day a month. But, for many parents far from home, her warmth and kindness has not been forgotten.