It’s About the Leak in the Dike

It’s About the Leak in the Dike



I think the saying goes: There’s an elephant in the room. Unfortunately these days, if you listen to even ten minutes of news and don’t live in a cave, there’s maybe….ten elephants in the room. I’m not so worried about massive land animals sitting right in front of our face. At least we can see them and since they live to be between 50-70 years old they’ll be around a while….I never liked the analogy of elephants anyways, because they have no natural predators except….humans, who are a real threat to them.


No, I’m more concerned about the slow leak….It was subtle at first. You know, the problem we now have as a nation that nobody is willing to admit; the problem that, were we to acknowledge, would mess up our presumption of autonomy forcing us to recognize man is never going to solve his problems apart from God. Our suppression of this one truth– especially since the ’60’s– is like a body of water that has pressed up against the walls of our nation’s founding and we’ve missed The Leak in the Dike.


Do you know this poem? I read this story of Holland’s sluices anew the other day in one of my favorite homeschooling books. It begins:


The good dame looked from her cottage

At the close of the pleasant day,

And cheerily called to her little son

Outside the door at play:


Come, Peter, come! I want you to go,

While there is light to see,

To the hut of the blind old man who lives

Across the dike, for me;


And take these cakes I made for him–

They are hot and smoking yet;

You have time enough to go and come

Before the sun is set.”



So, mom returns to work humming while Peter in obedience, sets off. He bids his sister and brother good-bye and promises to return to them before they see a “star in sight.” He was a brave boy the poem continues, unafraid of the dark;


With eye and conscience clear…..he had not yet learned to fear.


It was a pleasant journey. Never mind that the blind old man could not see the child’s face because,


his joyous prattle made glad a lonesome place.



But, the day was passing; the shadows falling…and the mother’s anxiety deepened as she saw the birds return home yet no sign of Peter.

She comforts herself by remembering, “he said he would come by morning” and though his absence wasn’t like her boy at all, she believed he’d keep his promise.


He was on his homeward way…but across the dike, had stopped to gather flowers listening to the sound of the angry sea,


dashing themselves against their narrow bound. 


Peter was grateful to his father, “that the gates are good and strong”–


. my father tends them carefully,

Or they would not hold you long!


You’re a wicked sea,” said Peter;

“I know why you fret and chafe;

You would like to spoil our lands and homes;

But our sluices keep you safe!”





….through the noise of the waters

Comes a low, clear, trickling sound;

And the child’s face pales with terror,


As his blossoms drop to the ground.

He is up the bank in a moment,

And, stealing through the sand,

He sees a stream not yet so large

As his slender, childish hand.



‘Tis a leak in the dike! He is but a boy,

Unused to fearful scenes;

But, young as he is, he has learned to know

The dreadful thing that means.



A leak in the dike! The stoutest heart

Grows faint that cry to hear,

And the bravest man in all the land

Turns white with mortal fear.



For he knows the smallest leak may grow

To a flood in a single night;

And he knows the strength of the cruel sea

When loosed in its angry might.



 Seeing the danger this young boy fearlessly shouts the alarm,


He forces back the weight of the sea

with the strength of his single arm.


In hopes of help, he puts his ear to the ground listening for a footstep to “pass nigh”. Though no answer comes to him and he feels all hope is lost,


Yet what shall he do but watch and wait,

Though he perish at his post!



The little boy, we read, cries and moans until all he has for company are the stars and the memories of his brothers and sister asleep warm in their bed. He is tormented with thoughts of his poor mother and father and visions of being found dead.


But he never thinks he can leave the place

Where duty holds him fast.


His mother has been up with the light for thoughts of her little boy,


have been with her all night.


She returns to watch the pathway as she had done the day before, when suddenly, she sees her neighbors,


bearing something between them

Something straight to her door.  


She sees,


Her child coming home, but not

As he ever came before!


She and her husband fear the worst…that their son is dead…


Till a glad shout from the bearers

Thrills the stricken man and wife–



“Give thanks, for your son has saved our land,

And God has saved his life!”


So, there in the morning sunshine

They knelt about the boy;

And every head was bared and bent

In tearful, reverent joy.


Despite the years that pass,


When the sea roars like a flood,

Their boys are taught what a boy can do

Who is brave and true and good.


For every man in that country

Takes his dear son by the hand,


And tells him of little Peter,

Whose courage saved the land.



Many a stormy summer day, I read this poem to my young sons..


I taught them that this is who they must be as Christian men, but the lesson never bypassed me. This is who we are all called to be as children of God.


Unafraid to perish at our post if we must, for its not about the elephant in the room.

It’s about the leak in the dike. 




  •  Photo: “The Hero of Haarlem” from Hans Brinker; or, the Silver Skates: A Story of Life in Holland, by Mary Mapes Dodge (1865)
  •  Poem






  1. Nancy
    Jun 13, 2013

    Yes. Absolutely yes. This is wonderful.

    • Caroline
      Jun 13, 2013

      Nancy, Interesting poem, isn’t it? Amazing how it illustrates so many Biblical principles..and each time I come to it I see it more profoundly.
      Blessings always and +

  2. Victor S E Moubarak
    Jun 13, 2013

    Yes, things may well be bad throughtout the world. But God is still in control.

    Man may have turned his back on God. But God does not turn His back on His followers.

    May He bless you always.

    • Caroline
      Jun 13, 2013

      So true, Victor…And as the challenges increase, I pray to have the resolve of that little boy even if it’s only the stars left to see. Thankfully, the Lord is not like man and we can count on His faithfulness.
      Blessings always +

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