Marching Backward
Talkin' Compensation

Star Thrower


Loren Eiseley tells a story that helps me feel the power of recognizing and embracing life's contradictions.  The great naturalist once spent time in a seaside town called Costebel.  Plagued by his lifelong insomnia, Eiseley spent the early morning hours walking the beach.  And every day at sunrise, he found townspeople combing the sand for starfish that had washed ashore during the night to kill them for commercial purposes.  For Eiseley, it was a sign, however small, of all the ways the world says no to life.

One morning, Eiseley went out unusually early and discovered a solitary figure on the beach.  This man, too, was gathering starfish, but each time he found one alive, he would pick it up and throw it as far as he could out beyond the breaking surf, back to the ocean from which it came.  Eiseley found this man on his mission of mercy every morning, day after day, no matter the weather.

Eiseley named the man "the star thrower."  In a moving meditation, he writes of how this man and his predawn work contradicted everything Eiseley had been taught about evolution and the survival of the fittest.  Here on the beach in Costebel, the strong reached down to save, not crush the weak.  And Eiseley wonders, is there a star thrower at work in the universe, a God who contradicts death, whose nature (to quote the words of Thomas Merton) is "mercy within mercy within mercy"? 

"Quoted from The Promise of Paradox by Parker J. Palmer. pages 40-41"

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