An idealistic young man, Mark, traveled a great distance to find a well-known holy man to mentor him. Although this elder, Fr. Simon, was a confirmed hermit, Mark noticed that he was becoming physically weak. Ingeniously, Mark offered the perfect exchange; he could to do the heavy chores quickly for the elderly monk freeing valuable hours so that Father would have more than enough spare time to teach him how to live a spiritual life. This earnest young fellow was determined to do his work so well that the monk would never regret sharing his hermitage and more importantly, his wisdom with him.
One of the new novice’s daily chores was to haul water from a creek nearby with a yoke across his shoulders. On each end of a pole hung large clay pots.However, one of the pots had a crack in it 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 house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full three months this went on daily, with the novice bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
The young man tried to remain humble and patient, tried to embrace this lifestyle of holy poverty but he became increasingly frustrated by what he perceived as a waste of both time and water. Finally, he could not remain silent any longer,
” Father Simon, you know that I work hard every day, only to lose half of the water by the time I return home. The crack in the side of this old pot causes water to leak out all the way back to our hermitage.”
The old monk smiled, his eyes twinkling with good humour, his face a map of wrinkles. He simply nodded, encouraging the novice to continue.
Suddenly, Mark burst out,
“This pot is useless; it cannot be fixed. Please, would you give me permission to walk into the village and beg for a new pot? I cannot stand this senseless waste of my time and resources.”
The old man smiled again,nodded and then managed to catch the eye of his novice before he responded, speaking slowly and softly.
“Ah, yes, …I do understand your frustration but…. did you notice that there are flowers on one side of the path, but not on the other side? That’s because I have always known about this flaw, so I planted flower seeds on one side of the path, and every day while you walk back, you water them. For a month now I have been able to pick beautiful flowers to decorate our wooden table. Without this broken pot there would not be this beauty to grace our hermitage.”