Posted by Ronan Scully in Features.

Most of us feel we are here to accomplish something big in our lives and, if we haven’t met our goals, we feel as if we are incomplete, or empty, as if our lives don’t yet make sense because they don’t line up with our idea of major accomplishments in the way we want them to. We let ourselves off the hook with the realisation that just being here, being ourselves, is enough.

Also, often we never know the fruit of our labour. Each of us has some gifts, but we also have cracks or shortcomings. A lot of the time, we identify with those cracks and are very hard on ourselves. The solution is to understand who we are, to see our cracks in a proper way and to use them for spiritual progress and for the good of others in our lives. As usual a story might help.

The cracked pot

“A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across 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 to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself and I want to apologise to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, 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 do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked put, and in his 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 beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered him. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again, it apologised to the bearer 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 have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day, while we walked back from the stream you’ve watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Thought for the week

As your thought for the week, always be grateful, even if you don’t see the good in the bad immediately. Do not fall into the compare and despair trap. Each of us has our own unique cracks, but it’s the cracks we each have that make our own lives together so very interesting and rewarding. Just take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.