Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Cracked Pot

An Original Retelling Of A Folk Tale from India

This is a story about how someone discovered something special within herself.

There was a man whose job it was to bring water from the stream to his master’s house. The master had a very large house and he needed a lot of water for his lovely gardens and for cooking and bathing and for entertaining his many important guests.

The man carried water from the stream in two large clay pots hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. He would put the pole across his back with the empty pots swinging and walk from his master’s home to the stream. There he would fill up the clay pots, lift the pole across his back and carry the water back. He did this every day, over and over again, so that the master always had plenty of fresh water

Both of the pots were almost exactly the same and were designed to carry water. One of the clay pots was perfect in every way for the end for which it was made. The other clay pot was exactly like the first one but it had a crack in it and it leaked. Every time the man would fill the two pots with water and carry them to the Master’s house, the perfect pot was always full and the cracked pot was always half full.

This went on every day. The man would carry the pots to the stream, fill them with water and carry the water back to his master’s home. And then he would do it again, and again and again, all day long. And on every trip, one pot was full and one pot was half full.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. It was proud that it was perfect for the end for which it was made and it boasted loudly. The perfect pot criticized the cracked pot for its failures and told it how shameful that the Water Bearer worked so hard and the cracked pot was always only half full. The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and was miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After this went on for some time, the cracked pot was humiliated by its bitter failure. One day the cracked pot saw his reflection in the stream and was shamed by his imperfections. The cracked pot spoke to the Water Bearer. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these years, you fill me with water but when we reach the top of the hill I am only half full because of this ugly crack in my side. Because of my flaw, you have to work harder than you should and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The Water Bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the Master's house this time, 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 along one side of the path, and this cheered it some. Bees came and took nectar from the flowers from which they made honey. The flowers filled the air with a fragrant perfume and birds flew about the flowers singing. The pot had to admit that they flowers were beautiful. But at the end of the trail, the pot felt even worse because in the midst of all of this beauty it had again leaked out half the water. The cracked pot thanked the Water Bearer, “Thank you for pointing out the flowers to me. They did cheer me up. I enjoyed hearing the birds singing and the flowers smelled wonderful, but as you see I am still only half full.”

The bearer said to the pot, "My friend, you have misunderstood. Did you not notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other side? That is because I have always known about what you call your flaw. I could have gotten a new pot but I decided to take advantage of this feature of yours. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you have watered them. For these many years these flowers have decorated our Master’s home and brought fragrant perfume into his rooms. The bees have come to these flowers to make honey for his table and the birds sing to him. How much beauty and pleasure have been brought to our Master because of this thing that makes you special."

In the economy of the world there is never any shortage of people who are eager to point out our flaws. But if we can and will allow it, and if we listen and look deeply inside of ourselves, we may well discover that the very things that the world counts as our flaws are the source of great beauty and pleasure. Know that in our weakness we find our strength. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them. Embrace them. Celebrate them, and you will share the beauty that can come from only you.


  1. This is one of my favorite stories of yours and I think about it every time I carry a too-full water can to my chickens.

  2. What a lovely story. Even those of us who are flawed have a function. Thanks for sharing, Rocci.