October 22nd, 2007 11:45 AM by Michele Morse Reen
Every now and then a friend shares a story with me that I just have to pass on to the people I care about. This is one:
A water bearer in India had two large pots. Each hung on an end of the same pole, which he carried across his shoulders. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house. The cracked pot arrived only half full.
For two years this went on daily, with the bearer only delivering one and a half pots of water to his master's house. Of course, the pot that was not cracked was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
One day at the stream, after two years of what it perceived as a bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you so ashamed of?" "I have been able, for the 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 do all of this work, and you do not get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer smiled, and in his wisdom 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 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 is 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 the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."
This story helps me remember that each of us has our own unique flaws - we are all cracked pots. But, if we recognize it we can use our flaws to grace others and ourselves. Nothing goes to waste. So don't be ashamed of your flaws! Acknowledge them and you, too, can be the cause of beauty.
I tend to look at my cracks and miss my flowers. This story reminded me to focus on what good things I am doing along the way.