Dawn Cooley tells this great story
About a water-bearer in India
Who had two large pots, each hanging on the end of a pole
Which he carried across his neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it
While the other pot was perfect.
That perfect pot always delivered a full portion of water
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house;
Whereas the cracked pot arrived only, oh, half full or so.
For a full two years this went on.
Everyday. The water-bearer delivering one and a half pots of water per trip.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.
But that cracked pot.
It felt ashamed of its own imperfection,
Miserable that it was only able to accomplish
Half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what seemed like bitter failure
It spoke up, saying 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?”
“For these last two years,
I have been able to deliver only half my load
Because this crack on my side
Causes water to leak out all the way back.
Because of my flaws,
You have to do all this work,
And you don’t get full value from your efforts…”
Well, the water bearer’s heart went out to the old cracked pot.
And he said:
“As we return to the house,
I want you to notice all the beautiful flowers along the path.”
And they set off,
And indeed, as they went up the hill,
The old cracked pot took notice of the sun
Warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path,
And this cheered it some.
But by the end of the trail,
It still felt said, because it had leaked out half its load.
It apologized, again, for being such a failure.
And the water bearer said:
“Did you not see that there were flowers only on your side of the path
not on the other pot’s side?
I have always known about your flaw…
So I planted flower seeds on your side of the path
And every day while we walked back from the stream
You watered them.
Without you being just the way you are,
This beauty would not exist…”[i]
So this is a more pragmatic sermon than most of mine are.
I want to talk a bit about shame, but you should know its not because of you.
Really, its not.
This is something that I’ve been mulling over through a lifetime
in one church or another
ever since my mom worked feverously to tap down a cowlick one Sunday
when I was 5…you can see that it didn’t work,
–or when we got the side eye for “walking too fast” through the halls
when I was 12
–or when I felt strangely underdressed for wearing a polo shirt
to a meeting I was volunteering at when I was 18.
You should have seen me. A hot mess, apparently. [Read more…]