The Two Seas in the Holy Land
There are two inland seas in the Holy Land. One is fresh, and fish live in its waters. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their roots to sip of its healing water. Birds nest in the trees. Along its shores the children play.
The River Jordan makes this sea, with sparkling water from the hills. It laughs in the sunshine. And people build their houses near it, and birds make their nests, and every kind of life is happier because it is there.
The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here, there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. No towns are found on its shores, which are rocky and hard. Travelers chose another route unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy about its waters, and neither humankind nor beast, nor fowl will drink. It is a desolate place. What makes this difference in these neighboring seas? Not the River Jordan. Not the soil in which they lie; nor the country round about. This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the River Jordan. It gives from what it receives so that life may abound. For every drop that flows into it, another flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure. The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. It swallows up and keeps every drop of the Jordan it receives. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives.
The other sea gives nothing. It is named the Dead Sea. (-Bruce Barton, 1886-1967)