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Our western culture is a “disposable” or “throw away” culture. We discard and reject what is no longer useful. What is broken is simply replaced and most objects have a built-in time limit for their usefulness. Only the perfect rise above the very imperfect world in which we imperfect mortals live.

Gratitude is not found in what is perfect but in our brokenness.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on an end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years the bearer delivered only one and a half pots full of water. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and remained with accomplish only half of what it was made to do. After two years it perceived it was a bitter failure and it spoke to the water bearer.

"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out and because of my flaws, you have to do all the work and you don't get full value from your efforts.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot and with compassion said, "As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed the cracked pot took notice of the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path but it still felt bad and apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Gratitude is to be found in our brokenness. The more we are grateful for our mortality and limitations as a human creature we become more and more aware of who we really are. Today our awareness is referred to as our consciousness.

A new consciousness is bubbling to the surface. Jeremy Rifkin in The Empathic Civilization – The Race To Global Consciousness In A World in Crisis, writes that “there is no empathy in heaven, I guarantee you, and I’ll tell you before you get there because there is no mortality, there is no suffering. Empathy is grounded in the acknowledgement of death and the celebration of life and we are rooting for each other to be successful. He leaves us a final question: Can we reach planetary consciousness and global empathy in time to avert planetary collapse?

Henri Nouwen, a priest and prolific spiritual writer, speaks about compassion as the defining expression of what it is to be human.

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

Gratitude is in the acceptance of our brokenness. We are all cracked-pots.
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