This parable has apparently been around the internet for some time. Come to that, it has probably been around the world for some time! We regret we do not know who originated it or where. Still, it’s a good story with a timeless moral.
A water bearer had two pots hanging on opposite ends of a pole carried across the shoulders. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the second pot was intact. The intact pot always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, while the cracked pot arrived only half full.
So, each day, the water bearer collected two pots of water at the stream, but delivered only one and a half pots of water to the master’s house. Of course, the intact pot, perceiving its own perfection, was proud of its accomplishment, proud that it was fully able to perform its intended function. The cracked pot, on the other hand, ashamed of its apparent imperfection, felt miserable about being able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be endless, bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you,” it said.
“Ashamed?” asked the water bearer, “But why? What are you ashamed of?”
“I am ashamed,” the cracked pot replied, “because, for these past two years, I have been able to deliver only half my load. This crack in my side allows water to leak out, all the way back to the master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.”
The water bearer felt sorry for the cracked pot’s discomfort. In his compassion, he said, “Today, as we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
So, that morning, as they climbed the hill, the cracked pot observed the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, warming themselves in the sun. This happy sight helped to cheer the pot a bit; but still, at the end of the trail, it felt badly, because, you see, once again it had allowed half its load to leak out the crack. With bowed head, the cracked pot renewed its apologies to the water bearer.
“But, wait,” the water bearer asked, “did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, and not on the other pot’s side?”
The cracked pot thought for a moment, and said, “Now that you mention it, yes, I did.”
“Well,” the water bearer explained, “that’s because what you perceive as a flaw, I recognize as an advantage. When we started working together, I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and, ever since, you have been watering them, every day as we walk back from the stream. As a result, thanks to you, for the past two years we have been able to decorate the master’s table with beautiful blossoms. Just think, had you been any different from the way you are, the flowers would not have grown here to grace this walk and our life!”