The Broken Pot

(A parable of unknown origin, retold by Susan Wardell)

Once there was a woman who lived in a very hot, dry, place. Every day she had to walk a long distance from her house to the nearest well, to bring water back for her family. To do this, she used a large clay pot.

The pot had done this and other tasks for many years, but it was not a perfect vessel. In fact, it was quite broken, with cracks so large that as the woman was walking, the water would consistently leak out onto the dry ground. This happened to the extent that by the time she reached her home, she had only half the water left that she had travelled so far to get.

The pot was well aware of it’s brokenness, and it was deeply ashamed. One day it asked the woman miserably: “Why are you still trying to use me? I am broken!” When the woman said nothing, it persisted: “Can’t you see how my insufficiencies cost your family? I am not fit for the task that you have chosen me for.” And when her silence continued: “Why don’t you select a better pot; something more sturdy and more beautiful, that is not been damaged like I am? Something that will save you time and effort, that will do the job better than a broken vessel like me.”

The woman paused, and picked up the pot to carry it outside. The pot feared that now the time had come where the truth of it’s burdensomeness would finally be acknowledged. But now the woman replied:

“I see your brokenness, and I know well that my precious water leaks out onto the ground as we walk together. But look…” and she pointed back in the direction of the well. Now, at last, the pot saw that all along the sides of the dusty track a lovely garden was growing: full of flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

“These have been a blessing to my family every day” the woman told the pot. “Choosing you is no accident. It is because of your brokenness, not despite of it, that our journey has been made into something even more beautiful.”

Then they walked together again, as the pot let water fall like tears of joy… and all around them, life bloomed.

  • SUSAN WARDELL is a Social Anthropologist, Mother, Jesus-follower, Tree-hugger, Muffin Afficionado, and Writer. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Neuro-biology and “life abundantly”

Sometimes creation seems full of tiny miracles. I don’t often enough count my own body as one of them.

However earlier this week I was captivated by a video appearing in my newsfeed:

[Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hv1m2wnGQA. Video image: large sphere to left is pulled along something resembling a path, by a long ‘rope’ with two leg-like appendages which ‘march’ rhythmically].

That merry little trooper is (according to some scientists) myosin, dragging a ball of endorphins along an active filament into the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex: “Happiness in action.”

I’m not sure the science is that straightforward, but what it reminded me is that my body, and perhaps especially my brain, is full of tiny miracles; a delicate biological symphony in motion.

When I think about the way that God has equipped us with bodies that can sense, translate, and process such a variety, such heights and depths, of sensation and emotion, I feel like it tells us something about God herself, and something about the human lives she hopes us to lead.

I have been pondering then, what it means in John 10:10, when Christ tells us he has come that we may “have life, and have it to the full” (NIV), or in another translation, have “a rich and satisfying life” (NLT), or another: to have life “more abundantly” (KJB).

I don’t believe in any way that personal happiness should be our sole goal in life. But what a generous God she indeed is, that bestows us with the capacity for such joys along the often difficult paths of the Kingdom.

Yet capacity is not the same as fulfilment of promise. And SO many things work to steal this from us (as John 10 also says).

As I’ve thought about this, I wanted to focus my prayerful response on those of us who right now feel that our brains are somehow broken… bent a bit… or just different in ways that are hard to understand:

May Jehovah Rapha (the God who Heals) shine gently into those hidden places.

May she write her story there, in the amazing bio-chemistry of our bodies.

May we be attentive to small miracles both outside and inside of us. 

  • SUSAN WARDELL is a Social Anthropologist, Mother, Jesus-follower, Tree-hugger, Muffin Afficionado, and Writer. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Broken Bodies

Content Warning: mention of eating disorders, mental illness, and sexual assault

They call her a bean pole
With a slender frame like the stick whose strength is used to help bean plants grow
Which contains a sad irony
When she won’t let food touch her
Scared to be tainted by the calories
And they call her bean pole
But she can only see a tree trunk
Layers of herself she wants to shed
And she feels
So broken

They call him a couch potato
Dirtied by the soil of laziness they perceive
Because after a redundancy it’s not hard for him to feel like his life is redundant
But there’s only so many hours he can spend
Scrolling through jobs he doubts he could get
He forgets what it’s like
To feel purpose in a life that seems
So broken

They call her a tart
Sweet, but not good for you
Just her name leaves their mouths with a sour taste
Because in their minds
The difference between feeling whole inside and a gaping hole inside
Is the one letter he took away
It was a silent letter
The “yes” that never left her mouth
Yet he heard it anyway
And now they treat her as being
So broken

They call him nuts
And perhaps it is appropriate – after all
Nuts are the most common food allergy
And sometimes he feels like he’s allergic to himself
With the obsessive compulsion to scrub his hands raw
Trying to cleanse his skin of his mind’s disease
That has become the punchline for pedanticity
His emotional state is as raw as his hands
And his life, like his skin
Feels so broken

And why do we continue to compare ourselves to food?
As if we are less than human
Just there to be consumed
By these overwhelming darknesses
Secretions of ebony inks that swirl
In a jet black haze around us
And sometimes this smog weighs down on us
So thick, so heavy
That the exit lights are invisible
And sometimes it feels like we’re
Just too broken –

 

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,

and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said,

‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying,

‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood;

do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me’

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

1 Corinthians 11:23b-26

 

And this, perhaps this is the food metaphor to end all food metaphors
Because this one
Broken body
Gives us hope that
We can be restored.

Emily is too tired to write a bio so here is a link to her blog: https://emilyontheinternetblog.wordpress.com/ 

Feature Image by nickelbabe; accessed via Pixabay