Small Beginnings

Two round loaves of sourdough

Mixed: 9 pm

Molded: 12:30 pm next day

Baked: 4 pm

Left one loaf of sourdough on the front porch of a friend–a friend who is a lot like Caddie Woodlawn…

Recently I’ve been reading through Caddie Woodlawn, a short novel by Carol Ryrie Brink as part of my daughter’s homeschool history studies. The story follows Caddie and her siblings as they learn and grow and stomp through the woods of Wisconsin in the early 1800’s. The story is endearing–Caddie is allowed to run with her brothers, and because of this freedom ends up having a heap of adventures.

Near the end of the book the author inserts just the first few lines of a poem written by Charles Mackay, a Scottish poet. The poem touched me and I wanted to share it here since it is so much about giving. (By the way, I’ve found this poem under three different titles and I can’t seem to find which one is the original. They all fit the meaning of the poem. They are: Song of Life; Small Beginnings; and Little and Great.)

The poem is made up of four short and separate stories. Each one is about giving something small, something that may seem insignificant, but that may amount to very much later… If you have time, read the poem aloud, and enjoy both the rhythm of the language and the meaning. And may we all seek to do some good that may later benefit someone else!

Small Beginnings
by Charles Mackay

A traveller through a dusty road strewed acorns on the lea;
And one took root and sprouted up, and grew into a tree.
Love sought its shade, at evening time, to breathe its early vows;
And age was pleased, in heats of noon, to bask beneath its boughs;
The dormouse loved its dangling twigs, the birds sweet music bore;
It stood a glory in its place, a blessing evermore.

A little spring had lost its way amid the grass and fern,
A passing stranger scooped a well, where weary men might turn;
He walled it in, and hung with care a ladle at the brink;
He thought not of the deed he did, but judged that toil might drink.
He passed again, and lo! the well, by summers never dried,
Had cooled ten thousand parching tongues, and saved a life beside.

A dreamer dropped a random thought; ‘t was old, and yet ‘t was new;
A simple fancy of the brain, but strong in being true.
It shone upon a genial mind, and lo! its light became
A lamp of life, a beacon ray, a monitory flame.
The thought was small; its issue great; a watch-fire on the hill;
It sheds its radiance far adown, and cheers the valley still!

A nameless man, amid a crowd that thronged the daily mart,
Let fall a word of Hope and Love, unstudied, from the heart;
A whisper on the tumult thrown, – a transitory breath, –
It raised a brother from the dust; it saved a soul from death.
O germ! O fount! O word of love! O thought at random cast!
Ye were but little at the first, but mighty at the last.


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