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Generosity and Gratitude
From River of Awareness:
Seeking the Wisdom of Love
by Stephen Sims
Part 7: Making the Difference
I love the anthropologist Loren Eiseley’s starfish story. It reminds me that each kind thought and gesture truly matters. A woman asked a boy what he was doing. She saw him repeatedly bending down, picking something up, and tossing it gently into the sea. The boy responded that he was throwing starfish in the ocean so that they would not die in the sun. Looking at the miles of beach stretching before her, the woman suggested that the star thrower, despite all his effort, could not make much of a difference. The lad listened politely, then stooped to pick up the next starfish, and threw it back into the sea past the breaking waves. The he looked up and said, “I made a difference to that one.” (1)
Time and time again, I have seen evidence of this truth. I recall one such experience where the difference was very visible. As a hot red sun set over the dusty Indian terrain, Ivana and I leaned over a dying leper who had been found beside some railway tracks five days earlier. His maggot-filled wounds had been washed by another leper, and he had been given some food and medicine. Now he had relapsed and was very weak. Ivana told him he might die. In his native Bengali language, he replied that he believed in God, and he tenderly expressed the gratitude he felt for five days of “beautiful kindness” while he lay dying. As he let go of life, he cherished our presence. I thought to myself that this leper would have no difficulty understanding the invitation to love summed up by Saint John of the Cross: “Friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. God is love. And where there is no love, let us put love, and then we will find love” (see 1 John 4). I was profoundly touched by this leper whose gentle heart was filled with courage and gratitude.
The task of love is daunting. The work to win love’s freedom, the courage to suffer its trials, and the discipline to give what it demands requires a continuous inner evocation of being. But love comes from an infinite source. Like a spring of water, it is unable to contain itself. The river journey of awareness, with its many teachings, leads to the wisdom of happiness. As I begin each new day, I like to remind myself to be in love. This is the mantra that steadies my intention. Through awakening a power of compassion, we participate in enchanting each other’s lives. As our journey continues, may the spirit of love burn within our hearts.
(1) Loren Eisley, adapted from “The Star Thrower,” found in
The Unexpected Universe (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1969), 67-92.
Author Stephen Sims is the founder of IASIS, an awareness education project that endeavors to awaken positive potential through nurturing physical wellness, emotional wisdom, and spiritual balance. Steve's life work has revolved around community service related to drug rehabilitation, care for the elderly, prison visitation, outreach to the homeless, and wilderness tripping. This is Steve's first book, with a variety of thematic reflections that make reference to his wide range of life experience.
River of Awareness is available on Amazon.com