I would like to share with you a beautiful story I once heard from an American preacher who had been invited to preach the English novena at the shrine of Ste‐Anne‐de‐Beaupré several years ago. This story still resonates with me today because it gives us an enlightening teaching on the need to accept our human frailties if we want to move forward in life and reach a certain maturity and psychological and spiritual fulfillment. So here is the story of this old Indian legend that will surely touch many hearts and make us want to share it with others.
Every day, an old man, who was the slave of a rich carpet salesman, had to walk several kilometres with his wooden yoke on his shoulders and his two large empty ugs hanging on tightly, to fill them at the well and return them to his master. The aster’s j poor man repeated this routine daily and invariably, rain or shine, for his m household depended on it for survival.
One day, when he arrived at the well, and after filling his jugs to the brim, a miraculous event suddenly amazed the old man. The two jars began to talk to each other and the old man could clearly hear the subject of their conversation. Little did they know that the poor old man could hear them perfectly. At first, he was incredulous, but eventually, the old man dispelled any doubt as to the authenticity of this most unusual event. Without saying a word, he listened attentively to their conversation while painfully continuing his long walk back to his master’s house.
The new jug that was attached to the right end of his yoke began the dialogue by addressing the old jug that was attached to the other end, “Hey, old and worthless cousin,” he said with an insolent and contemptuous look, “don’t you realize that you are cracked in the middle? Don’t you see the water slowly flowing out of you with every step our poor old man takes? By the time we get home, you have already lost half of your contents. The only reason you are still alive is that the old slave keeps silent in front of his master about your deplorable condition! I, the perfect jug, ould have taken the lead a long time ago and confessed everything to the master. put w You would have been retired long ago if it had not been for me, and I would have you in the trash.”
The old man’s face dropped as he heard these words devoid of compassion and proclaimed with such insolence. But he said nothing then. He was waiting for the old jug’s reply. After all, old age can often surprise you with words of wisdom. But there was a long silence. And suddenly, the cracked pot addressed the unblemished pitcher.
“You’re absolutely right to despise me. Looking at you, I see no flaws: it seems to me that you are so perfect, unlike me, who is old and so weakened by the many journeys I have undertaken in my life. From a young age, I deplored the small crack in me that my potter did not take the time to repair when he created me. And since that time, my crack has continued to grow. You are right to say that I am worthless, because I lose more and more of my water as I get older and I feel so useless. Oh, how I wish our good old man could hear our discussion and realize that it is high time to put me into retirement and dispose of me in the waste!”
And the old man heard the big sigh of the old jug. Seeing the water flowing from its crack, it seemed to him as if he could see the sobs of the poor jug, intimidated and despised by the young jug. He finally decided to open his mouth and address the jugs.
“Enough talking, both of you. Now it’s my turn to speak!” The two jugs marvelled that the old man had heard everything they had to say. And the old man continued, “Now I’ll let you in on a little secret. When my master ordered me to go to the distant well to draw water the first time, I first took a long time to select you from the other jugs available. I chose each of you for a particular reason. I now invite you to look carefully at both sides of the road we have been travelling together for years.” And he continued on his way in silence for about fifteen minutes.
And he opened his mouth once more and addressed the two jugs, “Have you noticed that on the right side of the road, the land is arid and that nothing grows there, as on all this dried‐up land that we cross daily? And have you also noticed that to the left of the path that we have been walking together for so long, there are plants and beautiful flowers that grow and delight our senses with their variety of colours and fragrant scents? Have you ever wondered why these beautiful flowers with their enchanting scents only grow on the left side of the trail?” And the jugs were speechless, unable to understand the reason for such an unusual phenomenon.
The old man spoke once again and said to his two companions, “During our walks, you were so focused on yourselves that instead of looking up to the horizon to dmire the landscape before us, you looked only at the outside of your container. otter a Thus, you, the young jug, proud of the impermeability and perfection that the p had conferred on you, you constantly compared yourself to him, and you despised him as if you had given yourself that perfection.”
“And you, my poor old jug, who, in the face of the contemptuous words of your companion, could do nothing but despise yourself because you constantly compared yourself to him and because you did not understand that a crack or a fracture can very well serve the interests of the master, I now draw your attention to the gesture that I am going to make and that I have accomplished so many times on my way back from the well.”
And the poor slave slowly bent down and picked some lovely and fragrant varieties of flowers that he found on the left side of the path. He made a beautiful bouquet and addressed the two jugs one last time, “You see those beautiful flowers? Every time I come back from the trip, I offer them to my master with a smile, and they bring him great joy. One day he asked me, “But where do these beautiful flowers that you are offering me today come from because our land is so arid? And I replied, “See, master. It’s because of the old cracked pot that I chose! On the way home, I decided one day to plant beautiful and fragrant flower seeds. And thanks to its crack, water escapes from it and waters the flowers on the left side of the path, and I only have to pick them when they bloom.”
“And my master praised me for having had the wisdom to use this poor jug, which ow makes his whole household happy every time I present him with this bouquet ht n on the way back from the well.” What a lesson in humility for the jug that thoug itself perfect! What a lesson of faith for the poor jug who was despised and who despised himself afterwards!
Dear friend, let us raise our eyes and turn away from our failures, our sins, our human frailties. Let us rather look at the horizon, looking up to the sky, to the true Master who created us so different from one another and so fragile, with our cracks and faults that serve His purposes and give Him more glory than if we were perfect and proud jugs.
Let us give Him the most beautiful of all bouquets, that of the offering of our whole will, together with the practice of virtues. And by our intimate and daily prayer, let us activate the gifts of the Spirit which we received at our baptism. May our cracks allow the unstoppable river of the Spirit to flow from us and contribute to the transformation and conversion of souls. What a beautiful bouquet of fragrant flowers we will then be able to offer to the divine Master every day. It will not only ake His Father’s heart rejoice, but it will also make His entire heavenly household rejoice. Blessed are the cracked pots!