A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfectly made and never leaked. The other pot had a crack in it and by the time the water bearer reached his master’s house, it had leaked much of its water and was only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. ‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.’ ‘Why?’ asked the bearer. ‘What are you ashamed of?’ ‘I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,’ the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, ‘As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.’ Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house. (Author Unknown)
We are like the cracked pot carried by the ever present Spirit. We simply must do our best to bring our Lord’s highest good to others. Don’t focus on your cracks. It’s going to happen. Wrong decisions will be made; character flaws will surface. You will disappoint yourselves and those you love.
Use the lessons from your losses to bring more compassion, communication, and comfort to those stumbling down their path. We have been promised that “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned “Such an amazing guarantee. Depend on our Lord. He will use all of your life experiences to nourish his kingdom.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team