You are Beloved, Chosen, Blessed, Broken and Given. (See the last four weeks of posts if you’d like to catch up on this sermon series.) Today we recognize once again that we are like the communion bread which is lifted up (chosen), blessed, broken and given for the world.
Herni Nouwen, in Life of the Beloved, says that there is a mysterious connection between our brokenness and our ability to give. Our brokenness offers us a deeper way of sharing our lives and bringing others hope. It is through our brokenness that we can find new life, often in a way that wasn’t possible before. Let me share a wonderful story with you by Sacinandana Swami.
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on one end of the pole he carried across the back of his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream, the cracked pot arrived only half full. This went on every day for two years, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment and saw itself as perfectly suited for the purpose for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived as bitter failure, it spoke 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 the past two years, I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws you have to work without getting the full value of your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and out of compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the wildflowers on the side of the path. The pot felt cheered.
But at the end of the trail, the pot still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and again it apologized for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I knew about your flaw and took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them for me. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. If you were not just the way you are, he would not have such beauty to grace his house.
We are all cracked pots, and from our brokenness beauty can spring forth. It is also important to note that the water bearer brought forth the Beloved in the cracked pot, helped it to move past its negativity and see the ways it could offer something wonderful through its brokenness. We are called to recognize both roles in ourselves so that we will not only transform our own brokenness, but help others to be transformed as well.