There is a wonderful old story about a young man, who was walking along the beach, when he noticed that thousands of starfish had been washed up by the tide. The tide was going out, and the starfish were stranded. There was no way that they could get back to the water, and he realised that within an hour or so, they would all be dead.
In the distance, he noticed an elderly woman, who was picking up the starfish from the beach, one by one, and throwing them back into the sea. The young man went up to her and asked: "What are you doing?" She replied: "The sun is up and the tide is going out, and I'm throwing these starfish back into the sea, so that they won't die."
"But why are you bothering?" he asked. "There are thousands of them, and what you are doing won't make any difference. And there will be thousands more on the next tide."
The old lady stooped, picked up another starfish, and hurled it back into the receding tide. Then she turned to the young man and grinned: "Made a difference to that one!"
I love this story so much, because it proves that no matter how old or tired or busy we are, we can still make a difference in the world. It makes me so cross when people say "Oh, I don't bother with recycling (or picking up litter or whatever small task we are called to do), because my individual effort won't make a difference." The point being, that if everybody thought like that, Nothing would get done!
At times like that, I remember the story of the old lady and the starfish, and make my small effort, knowing that it will make a difference, no matter how infinitesimal. I try to follow the advice of the Quaker missionary, Etienne de Grellet, who wrote: "I shall pass this way but one; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." Amen