"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Good Life—Living Life as a Cracked Pot

By Micky Wolf
As my beloved and I cleared away plants and containers to be stored until next growing season, we discovered what you see in the accompanying photo. A cracked pot.

Reminded me of the popular wisdom story on the same topic. If you’ve never read it, check it out here. If you’re familiar with the story, a refresher might be in order. (Cannot locate a specific author/source credit.)

It’s not a spoiler to share the heart of the message: of the two vessels, the vessel that was cracked was no less beautiful or functional than the other—the Divine simply chose a different way to work through its flaws to create something wonderful.

Like you and me, a quick glance in the mirror is all it takes to make us aware of our own flaws. For other people, those imperfections are even more unsettling when living with effects of the aging process. It is unfortunate that as a culture, we are often quick to interpret a slowing gait or fading intellectual prowess as indications of unredeemable ‘cracks’.

Given the condition of our pot (vessel), it would be easy to toss it in the trash. It isn’t human, it’s a thing. But we are reluctant to do that. Why?

Consider the possibilities…                                                                                                          

…Fill it with plants and place it in a location where any water that leaks out will nourish the surrounding environment. (Per the aforementioned story)

…Apply a protective coating to seal the cracks, thereby extending the life of the vessel.

…Use it to store small gardening tools, bulbs, bird seed or vegetable seeds.

Any one of these possibilities will give new purpose and meaning to our cracked pot. Yet there remains another opportunity for it to contribute to the good life.

As the process progresses, the cracks will become longer, deeper, wider. Over time, the sides will chip and break apart. At which point we can gently shape the pieces into smaller ones that can then be used as drainage material in the bottom of other pots.

All of this unfolds, not unlike the way of life does for you and me.

We begin as infants with the tiniest hint of cracks, visible and invisible. As we grow and mature, they become more pronounced. In our latter years, they may inhabit the greater part of our physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual being.

The challenge, then, is not to see those ‘cracks’ as making us of less worth and value.

It is to see them as indications of the good life—a life that is being lived to the fullest, whatever the time, or the place, or the season.

How do I feel about having any similarities to a cracked pot?

Do I accept my ‘cracks’ as part of being human?

Do I let the ‘cracks’ limit the one life I have been created to live?


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Gourds, Goodness, and the Kindness of Strangers

By Micky Wolf
A few days ago my beloved and I made a visit to one of our favorite farm markets in the area.  Nothing quite like fresh, crunchy new season apples. Or large, smooth, portabella mushrooms for a stuffing of seasoned diced tomatoes and panko bread crumbs.

Entering the last aisle, I noticed a small display of colorful, ornamental gourds. Picking up one of the mesh bags, it only took a moment to realize they were somewhat dinged and spotted. I reached for another bag. Same. It was obvious the few remaining items were the worse for wear. Nonetheless, I chose one and put it in our cart.

Placing our items on the counter, the cashier tapped away, her helper sorting and bagging our purchases.  

“These gourds…the ones you have in the bag…” The short, gray-haired bagger smiled. Her manner was quiet, almost shy, yet warm and friendly.

“Yes?” I asked, as she held the bag toward me.

“Did you see the huge display outside the front of the store? They’re from a local farmer.” She paused, then continued. “There’s quite a variety of shapes and colors…very nice…and they cost a lot less, too.”

“No, we didn’t see the display. We came in the other door.”

She smiled her shy smile again. “Go. Take a look.”

“But I don’t want to hold up the line,” I replied.

“Ah—don’t worry about it. Nobody behind you—and if someone does show up, I’ll just open the next checkout.”

With that, I took off, making a beeline for the display about fifteen feet from the end of the counter.

And there, the huge crate filled with about every size, shape, and color of ornamental gourd known to man—and the Great Gardner of Creation.

In less than a minute I had nine of them in a bag, handing them to the cashier to be added to the total amount.

 “Thank you so much,” I said, looking at the helper.

“Nice, aren’t they.” She winked, smiling her shy smile.

Indeed. And I wasn’t thinking about the gourds.