Pure , Clear Water!
There's something about mountain streams.
They always seem in such a hurry -
gurgling and splashing down the hillside - flinging themselves
over waterfalls, down rapids and through gorges.
They are so young and full of life and at the very beginning
of their long journey to the sea.
And have you noticed that the water in them seems so clear and pure -
and much fresher looking than the water in big, old, slow rivers?
This is a story about just such a mountain stream
- let's say that it is in Switzerland -
and it ran right past one of those pretty villages that you find there.
The people in the village were very grateful for their little river,
for it meant that they had all the water they needed near at hand.
The water had special minerals dissolved in it that meant that it was
especially good to drink - the minerals came from the rocks that the stream
rushed over. The stream was also deep enough and fast enough that even
in winter when the top froze, there was still running water under the ice.
One spring there was a great storm - and the villagers awoke to find
the water in their stream was a nasty brown colour and there wasn't
even very much of it. Not what they were used to at all!
Off they went to see what was wrong - it was a hard climb up the mountain
and the rocks were slippery after the rain. They puffed their way upwards
and round a bend they saw what had happened - a tree had been blown
over right across the stream. The water was having a hard job to find a way
round and a largish lake was forming. The water that was managing
through was running round the hole where the tree roots had been -
and that is why it was so muddy.
But someone was already there - Josef - an quiet, old man who lived
halfway up the mountain in a little cabin with a goat, some chickens
and a dog for company. He had already sawn half through the tree trunk -
and the villagers soon helped with the rest and the tree was pulled away.
Josef said he would repair the bank with rocks and stones -
and then the water would soon clear.
The villagers would have to boil all their water until then.
When they thought about it, the villagers realised how much Josef
had helped them - and he didn't have to, for he got his water from above
where the tree had fallen and it was still clear and pure.
They thought about it some more - and then decided to ask Josef if he
would like the take care of the stream for them - for a small wage!
Josef didn't really want to take their money - but he agreed
and from then on the water was even more clear than before.
Every morning Josef walked down one bank - clearing out any dead twigs
and leaves and rubbish he found - crossed over by some stepping stones
he made and went back up the other side.
Sometimes he rebuilt part of the bank.
He always made sure that the water was running freely.
Several years passed - and people forgot that it was because of Josef's care
that they had all the benefits of pure water.
Then they heard that the village in the next valley had just bought
a new clock that stood in the market square and looked very grand.
The villagers wanted one for their village too......but how could they find
the money.....they would have to make savings......they could stop paying
Josef for a start. After all, there was no problem with the water now.....
and whenever anyone passed Josef's cabin (which wasn't very often!)
he seemed to be fast asleep in the sun with that old dog of his at his feet.
(Josef, of course walked the stream very early in the morning,
before any of the villagers were awake so that the water
was always just right for their morning cups of coffee!)
So that's what they did:
sent one of the village boys up to the cabin with a curt note
which said that they didn't need Josef to work for them any more.
They just stopped paying Josef......
and the money helped them to buy their splendid new clock.
Several months passed......and one or two people seemed to be less well
than usual.....old people at first and some babies.....then more people
got sick....it fact soon the whole village seemed to have one stomach upset
after another. It made everyone very bad tempered!
In the end, they had to ask the doctors and officials
in the town what was wrong - and that was expensive - but they came
and took samples of everything including the water from the stream.
"That's the trouble!", they said,
" You are all drinking from an impure water source!
You'll have to boil your water until it is fixed!"
The villagers couldn't believe it:
their lovely clear, gurgling stream - POLLUTED!
But when they went and looked at it.
It wasn't either clear or gurgling anymore.
It was sort of sluggish and dull looking.
So it was a very crestfallen group of villagers who climbed back up
the mountain and who asked Josef, very politely, if he would take care
of the stream for them again - they would pay him much more than before.
And Josef was a kind man who just smiled his slow smile and said
that he would - his old dog would enjoy the early walks again anyway.
From then on,
every time the splendid new clock in the market square struck,
someone would remember how mean the villagers had been to Josef
and how grateful they were that he still took care of their lovely
clear, pure water in their gurgling, rushing mountain stream.
Of course, God cares for us in much the same way that Josef cared
for the villagers and He often does it so quietly that we hardly notice
Then we start to forget about Him and we begin to think
that it won't really matter that we don't go to church
or say our prayers......or read our Bibles.
And then the rubbish in our lives begins to build up
- just like the dead twigs and leaves in the stream -
and before we know it things begin to go seriously wrong.
But isn't it wonderful to know that God is waiting for us to come back
to Him and ask for help - just as Josef did in this story!
And He always will help us - if we ask !
© copyright: Elizabeth Tolson 1999
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