On Father’s Day, a few years back, my two kids, friends and I were out for a picnic on a tiny island up Penobscot Bay.

Walking around the islet, I saw this rock jutting out of the water in the draining tide. It was just far enough from the beach that I couldn’t quite see what was on top of it, but my curiosity drew me out into the water, which was about waist deep by the time I got close enough to see the small group of starfish.

It being Father’s Day, and it being a year in which we were embroiled in serious family challenges, I anthropomorphically identified with the little galaxy. 

Our family was beset by an implacable threat in those days, and there was little end in sight. There was no place for us to run or hide so we were just doing our best…. vulnerable, exposed and imperiled. The congregation of starfish perfectly represented the way we were feeling back then.

But I also related to the manner in which these Asteroidea were huddled together…as though they consciously found comfort in each other’s company and presence. 

In any event, the tide came back in and they continued on their quiet way along the floor of the bay, grazing and surviving. And, in time, our own tide changed. Our threat, diminished and diverted, lost power and we were back in safer waters….as a family, our universe better than ever.

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Meredith Ralston