Message from our Chaplain

Rev Willie Liebenberg | Chaplain

Self-isolation and connecting in new and varied ways are just a few of the challenges we have all been asked to overcome. Nature teaches us many ways to deal with things.

It is important to remember that before there can be new growth, the seed must fall to the ground, separating from the tree that gave it life, and then die, to germinate and bring new life.  We are experiencing a season of letting go, a time of adjustment in our everyday life, to achieve keeping everyone safe.  If we are to embrace what will be, we must let go of what was.

There is a story in a book called the Unexpected Universe about a man called the Star Thrower. The story is by the late Loren Eiseley, and it goes like this:

On a beautiful tropical beach occasionally, the tide and the surf would be just right, and they would combine, and cause many starfish to be cast far up onto the beach.  Some of these starfish were very beautiful. After they were cast upon the beach, professional collectors and sellers would descend on the beach and swoop up all the shells.  After taking them home, they would boil them and clean out all the flesh of the animals inside them and then sell the shells to tourists.  Some of the shells were very valuable for they were exceedingly rare, and a diligent collector could make a lot of money. 

One morning, after the moon and the wind, had been just right, and many starfish had been tossed up on the beach, a man was seen at the far end of the beach all by himself, picking up starfish one by one and throwing them back into the sea. People where curious about what he was doing with the starfish while so many other people were busy collecting. Someone went over to him and asked him if he too collected things on the beach. “Only like this”, he replied, “I collect only for the living”, and throwing another starfish back into the sea he said – “See, one can help them…” He was asked, how what he was doing could make a difference in the face of all the collecting going on.  As he threw another starfish back into the sea, he turned and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

I think that this story has a lot to say to us about Jesus and ourselves.  The thing is, in the midst of this world most people exploit things for their benefit, they take every advantage to get ahead, to gain more than they already have, and even the things of exceptional beauty are not exempt.  Given the right circumstances – people rush to pick up that which is suddenly and unexpectedly made available, ignoring, meanwhile, the suffering that is all around them in their hurry to look after themselves.  Jesus was a star thrower.  Jesus moved among us.

Instead of seeking to enhance and enrich his own life, he paid attention to those who were in need; he collected for the living, he helped them instead of himself.  What we need in life cannot be grasped by us, our own desperate efforts cannot fashion it, we cannot take it from the shelf in the store; instead, it can only be received as a gift of God.