Xenophon, Anabasis 6:5
The army stood, stumped, at the deep ravine, unable to go on in pursuit of the Bithynian army. “It can’t be passed,” said general Sophaenetus, staring at the crevasse before them. “It’s too deep and risky. Let’s turn back.” While the soldiers grumbled, Xenophon rode up in a frenzy, asking why the army had stopped moving. “It’s the ravine, sir,” barked Sophaenetus, the oldest general.
“Nonsense!” said Xenophon, who, after a brief pep talk to the hesitant force, led the men step by step down into the treacherous deep. When they gathered victorious on the other side, Xenophon ordered his men into battle formation and said this one notable thing: “Listen, men. The enemy is just beyond that ridge. So as we march on, call the names of those marching beside you. Inspire them. And remember to do something ennobling today, something memorable, so that no matter what happens in combat, people will whisper your name in awe for generations to come.”
Then, marching with purpose rapidly, they pursued the Bithynians. Suddenly, the trumpet sounded, they struck up the paean, raised the battle-cry, couched their spears, and sent the enemy running for the hills.
Ravines often bring out the worst in us, forcing us to turn away from a destination or goal in frustration. But they can be a turning point, a rare chance to say or do something ennobling.
Paul said to Titus, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame…” (Titus 2:7-8).
Strike up the paean!
Do something ennobling today.
“Make each day your masterpiece.”