THE CRACKED POT

Once upon a time a woman named Chang Chang worked for a merchant in Sichuan province. The merchant’s home was high atop a hill, and Chang Chang worked as the merchant’s laundress. Every day she had to walk down the hill to collect water from the stream.

When she was young, Chang Chang made two pots to carry her water, and these she hung upon a pole she could carry over her shoulders. She painted one pot blue and the other red, and on each pot she painted flowers. Chang Chang loved flowers. And she loved her pots.

For some years she carried her pole down the hillside and collected water. Afterward she climbed the hill. She was strong and able, though she was growing older. And as time passed, the pots, too, grew old.

One day, as Chang Chang prepared to place the pole over her shoulders, she noticed the blue pot had a slender crack along its side.

She ran a finger over the crack and sighed, “My poor little pot.”

For a few moments Chang Chang studied the crack. “Will you hold my water?” she whispered. But she decided she could still use the pot. As always she carried both pots down the hill and filled them with water to the very brim. By the time she reached the hilltop, the pot with a crack was half-empty, but this still left her plenty of water for doing the laundry.

For the next two years, Chang Chang carried those pots down the hillside every morning. When she reached the stream, she filled them to the brim, and afterward she walked back up the hill, balancing the pole across her shoulders. By the time she reached the house, the cracked blue pot was only half full — just enough for the laundry.

Each day Chang Chang examined the crack, and though it was growing a little longer, she decided all was well. What she didn’t notice was that the poor blue pot was miserable. Each time it drank from the stream, it secretly hoped that this day all the water would stay inside its belly, but each day when they reached the top of the hill, the pot knew it had failed. The blue pot glanced at the red pot and saw water filled to the top, and the blue pot began to feel desolate.

In its resting place on the far side of Chang Chang’s little hut, the blue pot worried and wept. “I’m no good, I’m no good, I’m no good!” the blue pot wailed.

“Stop your whining,” the red pot answered. “No one wants to hear from a pot.”

One day the blue pot woke and felt its crack beginning to expand. It was certain Chang Chang would soon decide to throw it away. Soon it would be no use to anyone for anything.

That morning, as Chang Chang climbed the hill, she was startled to hear a voice she had never heard. “Chang Chang,” the voice said, “throw me away. I’m no good for anyone or anything.”

Chang Chang stopped and looked around, wondering who could be speaking to her. “Hello?” she called down the hill.

But the voice that answered was very near. “I’m right here,” said the blue pot, swinging this way and that to get Chang Chang’s attention. “I’m your pot. The pot you made with your own two hands. The pot that has served you so well all these years. But I see now my time is finished. The crack in my side has made me useless. When you carry me up the hill, I spill all my water. I’m no good!”

For a long moment Chang Chang stood very still, amazed that her pot had spoken. “Is that you?” she whispered, looking close. “Are you speaking, dear pot?”

“It is I!” the pot said. “I am so sorry I have failed you, but I have.”

Chang Chang was overjoyed to know her pots were as full of life as she had always imagined, but she was sad to hear such sorrowful words. “But pot, you don’t understand,” she said. “You haven’t been paying attention. Look around.”

Chang Chang pointed to the path beside them, the path up the hill, and for the first time the pot stopped looking inward and instead looked out. On the right side of the hill the pot noticed beautiful flowers growing in abundance — poppies and peonies and chrysanthemum and narcissus and citron. A ribbon of color edged the path.

“And look at the other side of the hill,” Chang Chang said.

The pot glanced to the other side and saw it was bare.

“I’ve always known about your flaw,” Chang Chang said. “And so I planted seeds on your side of the path, and every day you water them and add more beauty to the world.”

The blue pot was overjoyed. All its sadness was gone. It understood, just as Chang Chang always had, that every being has its unique flaws. And it is our little quirks and faults that make us and the world so interesting.

Source: Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson
Tell Me a Story
www.uexpress.com

CONSIDER THIS

Nobody’s perfect, but our imperfections make us interesting.

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life!

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DON’T FORGET THE BEST

Once upon a time there was  a shepherd boy tending a few straggling sheep on the side of a mountain. One day as he cared for his sheep he saw at his feet a beautiful flower – one that was more beautiful than any he had ever seen in his life. He knelt down upon his knees and scooped the flower in his hands and held it close to his eyes, drinking in its beauty. As he held the flower close to his face, suddenly he heard a noise and looked up before him. There he saw a great stone mountain opening up right before his eyes. And as the sun began to shine on the inside of the mountain, he saw the sprinkling of the beautiful gems and precious metals that it contained.

With the flower in his hands, he walked inside. Laying the flower down, he began to gather all the gold and silver and precious gems in his arms. Finally with all that his arms could carry, he turned and began to walk out of that great cavern, and suddenly a voice said to him, “Don’t forget the best.”

Thinking that perhaps he had overlooked some choice piece of treasure, he turned around again and picked up additional pieces of priceless treasure. And with his arms literally overflowing with wealth, he turned to walk back out of the great mountainous vault. And again the voice said, “Don’t forget the best.”

But by this time his arms were filled and he walked on outside, and all of a sudden, the precious metals and stones turned to dust. And he looked around in time to see the great stone mountain closing its doors again. A third time he heard the voice, and this time the voice said, “You forgot the best. For the beautiful flower is the key to the vault of the mountain.”

Unsourced

CONSIDER THIS

The boy forgot the best, and lost a treasure. We too can lose a treasure. We get so busy, that in our haste we miss things in life that are just waiting to be enjoyed. As William Feather (1889-1981) said, “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.”

Remember: “Nothing should be done in haste except catching fleas.”

ONE GIVES WHAT ONE HAS

Amanda was handed a beautifully wrapped gift box by her maid. To Amanda’s surprise the box contained a big piece of cow dung. The sender was a well known enemy of the family. In turn Amanda asked the maid to send her enemy a bouquet of a dozen, fresh long-stemmed roses.

The simple accompanying note read: “One gives what one has.”

Source | Inspired by a scene in a telenovela

CONSIDER THIS

A common Latin expression reads, “Nemo dat quod non habet,” which translates as “You cannot give what you do not have”.  I suppose the inverse is equally true: we can only give what we have in us to give.

What traits and characteristics are you planting, cultivating, nurturing and nourishing with consistency? Remember: what you cultivate within is the gift you have to offer.

THE FLOWER LADY

One evening a workman was wearily plodding his way home when he stopped to rest by the side of the road.  A woman came by the place hauling a cart full of flowers.  The smell of her blossoms so perfumed the air with sweetness that it seemed to take away the weariness in his bones and to lighten his spirits.  He had never experienced such wonder from the many blooms of his own garden.  “How much must I pay, or what must I do, to have some of your wonderful flowers? he asked the woman.”

“Oh, good sir,” she said, “take what you wish.”

“What return must I make for them?” he questioned again.

“Your gratitude is enough,” she said.

So the man filled his arms with blossoms and hastened joyfully home.  And his wife and his children rejoiced with him over the remarkable flowers, for they, too, discovered that the sight of them was a delight and the smell of them refreshed the soul.

So as not to lose his treasure, the man planted the blossoms in a small plot of land behind his house.  Sunlight and water kept them amazingly beautiful, still performing their marvelous magic.

When children came to play in the yard, the man cautioned them against carelessness and wild play lest they trample the flowers and damage them.  But the flowers remained hardy and strong so long as there was enough sun and moisture to nourish them.  Nowhere else could the man or his wife or children find such remarkable solace from weariness, such comfort in sadness, such spiritual nourishment as those remarkable flowers provided.  Here was a treasure beyond value.

And as the family grew and more children came to play in the garden, the man became even more concerned over his remarkable flowers. He was determined to protect them, and so he built a high wall around them.  In time, because of his numerous children, he would allow them entrance to the small sanctuary only sparingly and with the utmost care.

Unfortunately, this began to cause consternation among the family members.  If the children caused their father stress or anguish, he would refuse them access to the flowers.  Eventually he set up rules as to who may enter the sanctuary, how they must enter, and what they must do while they’re in there.  For his part he continued to see that his treasure received enough sunlight and water so that the flowers continued to perform their wondrous magic.

As grandchildren began to appear, the man felt even greater need to safeguard his treasure.  Access to the flowers was open to all members of his family, but not without certain precautions. Requirements were to be met and standards upheld.  Offices were established to judge worthiness and to determine accessibility.  It became necessary to have lawyers to defend and judges to weigh and guards to safeguard and caretakers to upkeep, and on and on and on.

The man’s family, however, saw less and less of the flowers and experienced less and less of their magical powers. In the meantime, many of them went out in search of the flower lady.  Well, she was still out there, still giving away her amazing flowers.

Source | John Aurelio, Colors. Stories of the Kingdom
Also in William J. Bausch
A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers: And All Who Love Stories
pages 223-224

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • All gifts are freely given. We can either cling to them allowing ourselves to be possessed by our possessions or learn how to embrace them with a habitually relaxed grasp.
  • Caught off guard and distracted it is easy to lose right perspective, constricting ourselves and others with rigid rules made by well-meaning caretakers. What do you think?
  • Can it be that perhaps the official interpretation often becomes more important than the text, and the text becomes more important than the One behind it?

CATCHING THE FRAGRANCE

A man once said to a lump of clay,
“What art thou?”


The reply was, “I am a lump of clay, 
but I was placed beside a rose
 and caught its fragrance.”


Source |in Vigen Guroian, The Fragrance of God

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Remembering our clay beginnings, let us ask today:

  • What are the scents and fragrances in our environments that we are consciously and intentionally exposing ourselves to?
  • Are we catching the fragrance of the life-giving and enhancing scents that surround us?
  • What are we doing to steer away as best as we can from the stinks and stenches that are polluting our surroundings and have the potential of polluting us?