As Told by Charles R. Swindoll
The late Peter Marshall was an eloquent speaker
and for several years served as the chaplain of the US Senate. He used to love
to tell the story of the "Keeper of the Spring," a quiet
forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slope
of the Alps.
The old gentleman had been hired many years
earlier by a young town councilman to clear away the debris from the pools of
water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through
their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed
the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise have
choked and contaminated the fresh flow of water. The village soon became a
popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal
clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water
turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from
restaurants was picturesque beyond description.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for
its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the
salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of
the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year?
No one ever sees him. For all we know, the
strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any
longer." By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's
For several weeks, nothing changed.
By early autumn, the trees began to shed their
leaves. Small branches snapped of and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing
flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown
tint in the spring. A few days later, the water was much darker. Within another
week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and a foul
odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved more slowly, some finally ground
to a halt. Swans left, as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and
sickness reached deeply into the village.
Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special
meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they re-hired the old keeper of
the spring, and within a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear
up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps.
Never become discouraged with the seeming
smallness of your task, job, or life. Cling fast to the words of Edward Everett
Hale: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do
everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I
will not refuse to do something I can do."
The key to accomplishment is believing that what
you can do will make a difference.