Max, his wife Izzy, and their son, seven-year-old Theodore, lived in a cabin nestled in rolling hills among a stand of pines. Their large garden and small fields provided most of their food, including feed for their milk cow, several pigs, and a flock of chickens. Fresh, drinkable water came from a deep well, protected by a round rim of rock. The well was covered with a small roof from which hung a pulley and rope with a bucket attached to the rope by which they drew water.
For several days the water from the well had tasted foul, possessed a slight odor, and was cloudy rather than crystal clear. Max had a theory as to why their water had turned bad.
One evening he discreetly followed his son Theodore as he headed down the path from the house with the daily pail of table scraps and other garbage. It was his job every evening to serve the contents of the pail to the pigs. The pig pen’s location was quite a distance down a steep path, thus preventing the odor of the pen from reaching the family’s cabin. The last few days Max had noted that it had taken his son less time than usual for him to make the round trip with the pail.
Max, staying a distance behind Theodore, watched as the boy approached the well on his way to the pig pen. Instead of passing the well the boy stopped and tossed the garbage from the pail down the well, turned, and started back toward the cabin.
His father stepped out from behind a tree, startling his son. “Why did you throw the garbage down the well?” the father asked.
Theodore, red-faced with embarrassment and hanging his head in shame, mumbled, “Because it’s so far to the pig pen. It was easier to toss it down the well.”
“How long have you been doing this?” the father asked.
“A few days,” the son replied.
“We drink from that well,” the father explained. “You can’t put garbage down the well and then expect to get fresh water from the well.”
Theodore nodded his understanding. “I’ll never do it again,” he said.
After the passing of much time, the well once again produced fresh clean water.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23