There is an old legend from India about a servant in the household of a wealthy man whose duties included providing the household with water from a distant well. To accomplish this, each morning the servant filled two large earthenware pots, hung the pots on the ends of a long pole, and balanced the pole across the back of his neck for the walk from the well to the home. One of the pots was perfect and delivered its full quota of water to the home daily. The other pot had a crack, and along the trail from well to home that cracked pot lost half its contents.
Day after day, month after month, the servant walked the trail with these two pots. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, always completing its work admirably. But the cracked pot grew more and more ashamed. It could only do half of what it was made to do. One morning, miserable at its imperfection, the cracked pot spoke to the servant as he lifted his heavy load of filled pots onto his neck. “I wish to apologize,” it said. “Why?” the servant asked. “Day after day and month after month,” the cracked pot replied, “you fill me and carry me to the master’s house. But all along the trail I leak. Because of my flaw you are only able to deliver half of the water I am designed to carry. I am sorry your work is wasted.” The servant looked compassionately at the old cracked pot and said, “My friend, as we walk to the master’s house today, watch for the beautiful flowers growing along the side of the path.”
Indeed, as the servant walked with the water pots that day, the cracked pot observed gorgeous bright blossoms blooming in the sunshine along the trail. When they reached the master’s house, the servant asked the pot, “Did you see the lovely flowers? They grow only on your side of the trail. I knew of your flaw, and so I planted flower seeds along just one side of the trail.
“Every day you’ve watered them. Now I am able to gather flowers every afternoon to grace my master’s house with their beauty. All this has been possible because of you.”
We’ve been wondering what might be possible because of our imperfections. We all have imperfections, don’t we? Which one of us can’t find the flaws, the cracks, the breaks in our lives and feel a little ashamed of them? But perhaps they offer the possibility for good as well as reason for shame. Might we be more understanding because of a flaw of our own? More compassionate because we know the pain of heartbreak, too? More loving and giving because we know others have offered us those gifts when our woundedness has placed us in need of them? Perhaps, in fact, it is through the cracks of our lives that God’s love has the chance to pour into the world through us. What do you think?