Keeper of the spring

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
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 rehired 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.


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