The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 12, 2013

We are all able to help someone else

Keeping The Faith By Bev Davis (1949-2010)

— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Dec. 1, 2007. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

Living with a sense of purpose isn’t always easy, is it? Distractions splinter my focus into a hundred different directions — health concerns, worries about money, pressures of the job, pressures of life in general.

I’ve been living that kind of fragmented life in recent months. It’s draining and takes all the joy out of life. Living without a direct focus every day also inhibits gratitude. God always seems to send the right “zinger” my way to get me back on track.

Right when I needed it most, a mysterious book fairy who’s been leaving me inspirational treasures from time to time, left a copy of “Stories for the Heart” on my desk this week. God bless you, whoever you may be.

In the collection of inspirational stories, I found one I remembered from childhood. It’s called “The Keeper of the Springs.” Set in Austria, the story centers on an old man who lives far up in the mountains. The town below pays him to be a keeper of the springs. He had done his work so well for so long, a new generation came along that did not recognize or appreciate his efforts. Not realizing his value to the town, the council cut off his funding. After all, no one knew exactly what he did anyway.

When fall turned to winter, the streams feeding the town became clogged with leaves, twigs, and in some placed dammed up by mud and debris.

By spring, the water that reached the town was muddy and foul-smelling. Before long, townspeople who drank the water began to be sick.

The council re-convened and decided a keeper of the springs must do pretty important  — though seemingly insignificant  — work. Long, tedious walking along stream banks, fishing out leaves, limbs and debris had kept an abundance of fresh, clean water flowing down to them. Needless to say, they put him back into the budget.

It’s a good reminder that each of us is a “keeper of springs.” You may be a Sunday school teacher or religious leader imparting spiritual truths and nurturing faith in your pupils. You may be a parent, working through trial and error to instill good character traits in your children. You may be an elderly person, seemingly forgotten by others, who spends otherwise idle time praying for others. You may be a friend to someone, just walking beside them, sharing advice, encouragement, helping them sort through problems.

We are all in a position to go along quietly, and for the most part unnoticed, plucking debris out of the way and opening up channels of faith, hope, friendship, mercy or a better perspective for someone else.

We may not get paid for it, but being a keeper of springs is a pretty important job, don’t you think?