I think I first heard the story of the boy and the starfish from Wayne Dyer. He, of course, has been in my thoughts a great deal this week, as he gracefully withdrew his consciousness from that earthly body and moved on to other great adventures.
Dr Dyer made a difference, a huge one, while he was here.
Then there are the rest of us. This week our lives have been touched by the sight, not of starfish, but of small children washed up on the beach. We, too, feel the futility of any gesture amidst the mass of suffering as countless displaced people – mums, dads, sons and daughters – make desperate bids to find refuge and rebuild their lives somewhere safe.
What an opportunity it gives us – the chance to decide how we want to react; what we want to do. If we can step back for a moment from the wringing of hands and the economic and cultural challenges, each of us has the chance to make a difference, even in the smallest way, and that is a great gift.
Please don’t think I lack empathy with the refugees by saying that. Certainly I believe that every single person on the planet chose, as some level, the life they’re currently living, so that they could play this massively complex and often agonising game called Life and experience all it can throw at them. We can’t come close to imagining how painful that is for some. We can decide, though, how we will respond.
So I decided I wanted to make a difference and the idea that came into my head was – bizarrely enough – ‘make hats for the children’.
Well, autumn is coming on, and many of the families are moving into colder places. Hats are great for keeping the body temperature up. I have an ancient and basic but functional knitting machine and shelves of yarn in all colours of the rainbow…
How was I to get these hats to the children? That was the next challenge. No sooner had the thought entered my head than I received two emails, detailing local drop-off points for supplies which would be taken to the refugee camp in Calais. Once synchronicity starts to kick in like that, I stop asking questions and get going.
Here are the first two. Each took about an hour to make. The little crocheted starfish take another 20 minutes. It struck me that I could make more hats if I left the decoration off, but intention is everything. As I create my rather lumpy little starfish (I’m not great at crochet) I’m pouring into them all the love and hope I can for the child who will wear that hat, and the starfish is a powerful symbol for me of how, even in this absurdly small way, each of us can make a difference.