By Keith Knight
There is this gorgeous mansion sitting high on a hill in Guatemala. People can see it from miles around. The master of that mansion is always well-dressed and he has a huge staff of servants.
One of the servants is named Jose and it is his job twice a day to haul water from a stream at the bottom of the hill. The water is used mainly for cooking and bathing.
It is actually a prestigious job. It gives Jose a chance to get outside twice a day. In fact, Jose inherited this job from his father. It’s been in the family for a while – this water-hauling. Jose’s father actually made a number of clay jars on a potter’s wheel. But even though there were four or five of those clay jars in the storage room, Jose’s father always used the same two jars. And when he passed on the task to his young son he encouraged Jose to use those same two jars.
And so Jose would fasten those jars by rope to a long pole that he carried across his shoulders, and he would walk down the stoney path to the river where he would fill them up with water and then climb back up the hill to the mansion where he would carefully empty them into large containers.
They were precious old clay jars but one of them was cracked. It had a hairline crack across the top half of the jar so that by the time he got back to the mansion, the jar was half empty.
Even though there were several perfectly good clay jars back in the mansion, Jose knew that these two were his dad’s most favorite … so he carried on the tradition.
Jose made that trip down to the river twice a day .. through the cool winter months, through spring and into summer.
One day, as he was bending down by the river to fill those jars, the cracked jar spoke. It said: “Wait a minute. Why are you doing this? Why do you fill me up every day with water, knowing full well that I will be half empty by the time I get back to the mansion? Why not simply throw me onto that stone path, crush me to pieces, and walk on me?”
Jose spoke. He told the cracked jar to take notice of the path as he walked back up the hill. “Look at your side of the path”, he said. “I knew full well that you were cracked and that you were dripping water as I walked along that path. Last winter I spread some good soil on your side of the path and then planted some flower seeds. You have unknowingly been sprinkling them with water twice a day, enough to keep the ground moist. Enough to allow the seeds to sprout. They are in full bloom now. Your side of the path is like a quilt of color. The other side of the path consists of dirt and rock.”
“In fact”, said Jose, “I picked a few of those flowers and they are sitting on the master’s dining table right now.”
I am not sure what the clay jar’s reaction was but I do imagine that it may have held its head a bit higher – if jars can do that. It may even have squirted an extra bit of water out through the cracks now and then .. just to make a point.
I feel like that cracked jar now and then; filled with imperfections. But I imagine that a bit of ‘good’ seeps through now and then, touching people’s lives, making a difference. How about you?
Keith Knight is executive director of the Canadian Christian Business Federation.