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!

THE BLESSING OF THE CRACKED POT

Back in the days when pots and pans could talk – which indeed they still do –  there lived a man. In order to have water, every day he had to walk down the hill and fill two pots and walk them home. One day it was discovered one of the pots had a crack and as time went on, the crack widened. Finally, the pot turned to the man and said, “You know, every day you take me to the river, and by the time you get home, half of the water’s leaked out. Please replace me with a better pot.”

And the man said, “You don’t understand. As you spill, you water the wild flowers by the side of the path.”  Sure enough, on the side of the path where the cracked pot was carried, beautiful flowers grew, while other side was barren.

“I think I’ll keep you,’ said the man.”

Source: Kevin Kling, The Dog Says How,
(Borealis Books; 1 edition, 2007)
pages 166-167

CONSIDER THIS

“The spiritual life is about being open to every moment, however incomplete, because every moment in life has something to teach us about what it means to live well. It is about realizing that sometimes the perfection of the moment lies in accepting its imperfections.”

Joan ChittisterWelcome to the Wisdom of the World and Its Meaning for You (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007)

STONE SOUP

Once upon a time a monk wandered into a poverty stricken village and asked for shelter for the night. “There’s nothing to eat here,” the villagers told him, “you’d better move on!”

“I have enough here to make soup for all of us,”  the holy monk replied, “if I could just borrow a large pot.” Curious, the villagers produced a pot and stood around watching as the monk filled it with water and built a small fire underneath. He then took three round stones from a small bag he carried on his shoulder  and dropped them into the water.

As the water came to the boil the monk sniffed it hungrily saying, “I do love stone soup, but if I just had a little cabbage it would taste even better!” At this, one of the villagers disappeared returning a few minutes later with a cabbage he has been hiding and put it into the pot.

A while later the monk tasted the soup and said “Hmm, this is good, but a couple of carrots would make better still.” Again a villager produced a bunch of carrots and so it went on as potatoes, onions, mushrooms and a bit of salt beef were all added to the pot until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.

For more information on this story go to Stone Soup

PONDER

There are many versions of this old story, but the message is the same. We all have a contribution to make and by sharing our gifts and resources our own lives are enriched.

  • What are your gifts and your talents?
  • What is your contribution that can make a difference?