Loren Eiseley and others tell this story: “Once upon a time, there was a wise man 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, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!” At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.

This week I did some starfish picking up. I approached a Braille press about putting an anthology of well-loved poems into Braille. I have two such books. There aren’t very many more available for purchase. When I want to read poetry aloud at nursing homes, etc. to celebrate poetry month in April, it would be nice to have more to choose among. I can listen to a poem and copy it down word by word in Braille, but a book already produced would sure be easier. Getting things done in Braille is time-consuming and expensive, so I’m starting now on this project that I hope to have completed by my seventieth birthday. The employee I talked to said I could check back in a month to see if the Braille press would do it.

A researcher asked me to help out with a study she’s proposing on depression self-management for blind and visually-impaired people. What a good idea! If it gets funded, I’ll help design materials, recruit participants and run groups by phone. Hopefully this will be doing the fun parts of research, not the number crunching and writing up the study.

My diocese just announced they will stop making monthly payments to pensioners some time this summer. Each pensioner will get a one-time payment. Many of us Catholics are incensed. I’m pitching an idea that at least we should have an emergency fund these poor folks could apply to. Contributing to this could give people something positive to do with their anger energy instead of just saying “I’ll never give to the diocese again.” When I talked to the Vicar it turns out lots of people have risen up in protest and he was hopeful more would be done. I hope it goes beyond listening sessions to action!

I’ve started working on a display for the deanery’s social concerns fair where I’ll have a table about the Xavier Society for the Blind. Xavier provides downloadable large print Mass readings, Braille booklets of the same, religious books in downloadable audio and Braille and CCD (Sunday school) materials in Braille to about 3,000 clients. I want to highlight how the blind clients of Xavier are equipped to participate in parish life, and should be welcomed to do so by their parishes.

If you are looking for starfish to help, subscribe to Jen Hofmann’s weekly checklist. She has plenty of great ideas:

Americans of Conscience Action Checklist