the cracked pot

Today’s post is partially in answer to today’s prompt, “What is the last thing you learned?”, but mostly I just want to recount an experience from yesterday. I went for a run yesterday morning, and as I started, I breathed a quick prayer.

Why, God?

It was a warm day, and I’ve had a bit of a rough week, physically, up to yesteday – travel and other out-of-the-ordinary circumstances had me feeling a bit “stove up” (now there’s a fun phrase with interesting origin). All that to say, I knew I needed to take it easy on this run – so that became my sole focus! I didn’t give my hasty prayer another thought.

The ran went pretty well! I was able to keep a good breathing cadence, remain relaxed, and after the first mile or so, it felt pretty “effortless” – as far as running ever does. I brought a hand-held water bottle and took frequent sips so I wouldn’t get dehydrated. Paying no attention to how fast or slow I was running, my mind was focused on just enjoying the run and staying “within myself”. At the end of my run, I was pleasantly surprised to learn my pace was better and more consistent than expected!

Just before the end of the run, I took a sip of water and splashed some beside the pavement where I was running. In an instant an entire story unfolded in my mind – one I’ve apparently heard or read sometime in my past. It’s the story of the cracked pot.

Here’s how the story goes:

“A water bearer had two large pots, hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and 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 delivering only one and a half pots full of water to the master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. The 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.’

The bearer asked, ‘Why? What are you ashamed of?’

The pot replied, ‘For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of 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 don’t get full value for your efforts.’

With compassion, the water bearer replied ‘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 cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. 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?

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, the master would not have this beauty to grace his house.’”

I breathed a prayer, and in those two word, “Why, God” was a question about my own cracks, my own brokenness. And then, oh the irony, I forgot about it. Flighty attention is but one of my many perceived cracks.

And still, I received my answer.

We all have those why prayers, I think. Your “why” prayer may be quite different or quite the same as mine, but I have faith that if you even breathe it, you will receive the answer. Even if you forget you asked.

I’m also confident of this: You are uniquely designed and entirely known. Of course, it’s easier for me to say that to you than to believe it for myself.

I’m working on it.

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
– Psalm 116:2

3 thoughts on “the cracked pot

  1. Ellie Thompson

    A lovely story, David. I think I’ve also read it somewhere before. As I began to read about the flowers growing along the route of the pot bearers and then, only on the side of the cracked pot bearer, it came back into my memory. Although I’m not a strictly religious person, I believe it comes from the bible (from my churchgoing days). However, there is also a very similar version based in India. A lot can be learned from this story. Thank you for sharing it – I enjoyed rereading it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. David Post author

      Yeah, I’d have to say I’m not too religious either, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in the Bible – which leaves the most likely source to be Indian folklore/proverb. It certainly resonates with me.

      Liked by 2 people


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