Saturday, April 30, 2011


Hello everyone!

My name is Rachel, and on May 22 I will graduate from Le Moyne College.  As far as emotions go, they are a mixed bag, but I am very excited to take my next step as a volunteer with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry (FVM).  I don't yet know where they will put me, and that's both thrilling and terrifying.

I've started this blog to mark a new chapter in my life, one I have labeled "Searching for Starfish."  The phrase comes from two places.  The first is a Nooma film called "Shells" (the link will be at the end of this post).  The story, in brief, is that Rob Bell was at the beach with his wife and sons.  His sons were collecting shells that had washed ashore, and all of a sudden, they all caught sight of a starfish floating out in the water.  His younger son went to catch it, running out only part of the way.  He returned, and then repeated the process, getting closer each time.  The last time he returns, his father asks him why he won't go get the starfish and he says he can't.  His father asks him, "why?" and the reply is simple: "my hands are full of shells."

When I first saw this video, I was instantly struck by the relevance of that story to my own life, and how many shells I carry.  At this point in my life, I am now looking for my starfish, and trying to lose some of the shells that I carry in the process.  Shells, of themselves are not bad, but all of those little things are what keep you from getting that one big thing.  I'm looking for my one big thing.  That's part of what I hope from my FVM year, is that I will be closer to finding my starfish.

The second place is that story that everyone tells a slightly different version of, the story of starfish.  Here's my favorite version:

It Matters
by Anonymous

As I walked along the seashore,

this young boy greeted me.

He was tossing stranded starfish

back to the deep blue sea.

I said, "Tell me why you bother.

Why waste your time this way?

There's a million stranded starfish.

Does it matter, anyway?"

And he said, "It matters to this one.

It deserves a chance to grow.

It matters to this one.

I can't save them all, I know,

but it matters to this one.

I'll return it to the sea.

It matters to this one

and it matters to me."

As I move and grow in this world, it becomes more and more important to me to accompany the people that I can.  I can't be everything to everyone (something I continue to learn), but I can be some things to some people, and that is what counts.  Not how many people you love, not how many people love you.  Not the number of things you do for them, or the frequency with which you do them.  What matters is the depth of your love, which cannot be counted or measured, but can be felt and understood.  As long as you love your starfish, nothing else matters.

Along a related line, I'd like to share my motivation for doing what I do.  It stems from a short passage by Pedro Arrupe called "Falling in Love with God."

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.  What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.  Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

In this next chapter of my life, I hope to fall more in love than I ever have.  And when I do, I know I will have found my starfish. 

Peace and all good,