The Keeper of the Stream
February 1, 2019 | View PDF
Several years ago, I read John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping, which I highly recommend. It’s one of my top ten favorite books. John opens the book with a Prologue entitled: “The Keeper of the Stream”. I invite you to read it carefully and reflect on this powerful parable about your soul.
The Keeper of the Stream
"There once was a town high in the Alps that straddled the banks of a beautiful stream. The stream was fed by springs that were old as the earth and deep as the sea. The water was clear like crystal. Children laughed and played beside it; swans and geese swam on it. You could see the rocks and the sand and the rainbow trout that swarmed at the bottom of the stream.
High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man who served as Keeper of the Springs. He had been hired so long ago that now no one could remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would travel from one spring to another in the hills, removing branches or fallen leaves or debris that might pollute the water. But his work was unseen.
One year the town council decided they had better things to do with their money. No one supervised the old man anyway. They had roads to repair and taxes to collect and services to offer, and giving money to an unseen stream-cleaner had become a luxury they could no longer afford. So the old man left his post.
High in the mountains, the springs went untended; twigs and branches and worse muddied the liquid flow. Mud and silt compacted the creek bed; farm wastes turned parts of the stream into stagnant bogs. For a time no one in the village noticed. But after a while, the water was not the same. It began to look brackish. The swans flew away to live elsewhere. The water no longer had a crisp scent that drew children to play by it. Some people in the town began to grow ill. All noticed the loss of sparkling beauty that used to flow between the banks of the streams that fed the town.
The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper. The city council reconvened, the money was found, the old man was rehired.
After yet another time, the springs were cleaned, the stream was pure, children played again on its banks, illness was replaced by health, the swans came home, and the village came back to life. The life of a village depended on the health of the stream.
“The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper.”
(Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 13-14). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)