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The Fable of the Broken Pot

As many of you may have guessed, I am an avid reader. Recently, I’ve been reading “Broken Crayons Still Color: From our Mess to God’s Masterpiece” by Shelley Hitz — a book I wholeheartedly recommend. In the book, Shelley Hitz shares an old story from India that resonated with me and I think it might with you as well … 

There was a water bearer in India who had two large pots. Each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across the back of his neck. One of the pots had a small crack in it near the bottom. 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, but the pot that was broken arrived only half full.

For 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, bragging constantly about its full measure of water when it arrived. But the poor broken pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it was able to retain only half of what it was supposed to hold. After two years of what the cracked pot perceived as 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 carry only half my load because this crack that I am afflicted with 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 poor broken 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.”

As they went up the hill, the old pot noticed the sun warming some beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path, and this cheered the pot a little. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it 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 your 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, my master would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

—Author Unknown

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